Shop Learn
Distraction - how to deal with it ? — Parallax Forums

Distraction - how to deal with it ?

I have this problem since ...forever.
Every time I start an activity, be it a DIY project or a serious work I always get distracted by something interesting that pops out along the way. And then I start digging into that just emerged topic deeper and deeper and another intersting thing catches my attention while digging and then I get sidetracked completely for a while from the main activity and that usualy results in delays.
While I learn a lot of ineresting things along the way, I have this annoying feeling that I'm doing something terribly wrong that harms the initial schedule and sometimes leads to termination of that original activity.

Any idea how to deal with this ?

Comments

  • Capt. QuirkCapt. Quirk Posts: 867
    edited 2021-03-17 02:24

    This is a great question, and something I have wondered how others
    stay focused on their projects, organize their spin files, and if there
    is a recommended process for research, beginning a project, testing,
    maybe compartmentalize it and assemble it?

    I have this problem since ...forever. Every time I start an activity, be it a DIY project or a serious work I always get distracted by something interesting that pops out along the way. And then I start digging into that just emerged topic deeper and deeper and another interesting thing catches my attention **Squirrel**

    @Maciek, I have the same problem. 2 weeks on a project is about my limit.

    I wish I could remain hyper focused as Chip Gracey seems to be :smile:

    Bill M.

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,965
    edited 2021-03-17 02:36

    Hard deadlines, combined with procrastination, focus one amazingly well. :)

    -Phil

  • Over the deadline of the deadline works amazingly too!
    The client is turning up in the morning, they absolutely need to see it running!!!
    Our boss told us to stay here with you until you get it done :o

  • TubularTubular Posts: 4,331

    Stay off the 'net

  • @Maciek said:

    >

    Any idea how to deal with this ?

    Every person processes a bit differently. For me, breaking a project down into a handful of discrete and observable outcomes helps. Clearly understanding why I am doing it and what success looks like is a precursor to even caring enough to start.

    Maybe that is why building stuff is more of a hobby for me now :)

  • Beau SchwabeBeau Schwabe Posts: 6,460
    edited 2021-03-17 05:58

    Yes, deadlines and staying off the net. ... unless you are looking up information such as a datasheet or other information pertaining to your project.

    Over the years, since children, I have learned to compartmentalize very well. Years ago it was not uncommon for me to have one child bouncing on my knee while I was programming.
    I currently have about 5 projects at work and 3 clients on UpWork and 2 clients on eBay right now. On my computer my directory structure might look something like...

    Under each directory EVERYTHING specific to that project Stays within the directory

    You learn to streamline and program with a smart approach. For programming I resort to a little old school and create a flowchart. Once I have it in flowchart format I can easily convert it to programming.
    Programming is is used loosely since it could be any one of 5 or so different languages depending on the application. The reason I stick to flow-charting is because it makes it easier to come back to your own code weeks, months, even years down the road and make a change if necessary. I also take flow charting to a second level and implement a multi threaded dispatch approach.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,855

    @"Peter Jakacki" said:
    Over the deadline of the deadline works amazingly too!
    The client is turning up in the morning, they absolutely need to see it running!!!
    Our boss told us to stay here with you until you get it done :o

    :D:D:D....I know this all-too-well and it pi$$es me off.

    I also have a similar issue with my machine retrofitting; I just fire up the hydraulic system to do some testing and, BAM! There's a machine operator, right there with a stack of material, expecting to produce some parts. "Boss sent me over".

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,855

    I posted this, 5 years ago:

    https://jessicaabel.com/idea-debt/

  • For projects that you've committed to for employers, clients, family or friends, I'd agree with pretty much all the previous comments.

    But for projects of your own, I'd say if you're not inspired, then don't worry about letting them go.

    If it's a project that you're truly interested in, you'll come back to it later with a fresh mindset. If not then it's not worth having it drag you down.

    Sometimes I'll find myself pushing to advance some project, but generally I find I make worse design decisions when developing a project out of obligation rather than inspiration. So when the excitement of some project fades, I'll let it go, but first I try to box up the hardware and make a folder for the software with a few progress notes in case I want to pick it up again in the future.

  • I really cant sympathize with any of this because I never had a problem with distra.... OH LOOK A SQUIRREL!!!...

    On a serious note, I've come to realize that getting spun-off on random tangents may not pay any immediate dividends, but it always leads to learning something that becomes useful to me later.

  • One thing I've found that helps me out a lot is doing the Pomodoro Technique. It's nothing new or revolutionary, but for me it's made a huge difference.
    It's very easy to implement (you only need a timer, physical or digital), and can be easily adapted to your needs (for example, changing the length of breaks or focus periods).

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,891

    Excellent question! We all enjoy chasing shiny new things to some degree. I agree with PhiPi & others, accountability and deadlines are prime motivato....

    Wait, what's that a new electronic thingie over there on Ebay...?

    Stay off the web and get some fun, familiar audio going. Turn on the radio or loop an old movie you know by heart, that you love but won't be distracted to watch.

    "Give me one Ping only, Vassily."

    Diverbob sets the standard for me. His eternal dedication and years-long thread about his robot project show a long-term commitment. Longer than many marriages!

    WAIT: DIVERBOB'S "NEXT-LARGE-ROBOT" THREAD HAS DISAPPEARED! Don't tell it was lost in the forum swap!

    I searched for it but but only found my reference to it at: https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/148787/dont-let-this-happen-to-you

  • YanomaniYanomani Posts: 1,155

    Dear Mr. Erco

    You must be kidding, right?

    DiverBob's thread is alive and he's still very productive, as ever.

    https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/comment/1519164/#Comment_1519164

    His present distraction is a P2, and he's managing to integrate it to his project, step by step.

    He also did show himself at some of the (mostly) past weekly Zoom meetings.

    Henrique

  • As for the root of your question - a lack of focus, if you truly desire more focus you must make it happen. Simply choose to finish a project, set it aside, and call it done when you're "done" with it. If it's not interesting, what's wrong with "moving on" if you aren't spending other people's money (like your employer, or a client)? A few more tips if you really want to finish things:

    • make your lunch ahead of time so it's not time-sink
    • keep the browsers closed unless you're getting a key resource
    • put the phone on DND, except for your key family members
    • think about the project goal with the steps in mind to achieve it
    • write down the steps of the project, as you see them, in sequnce
    • knock out the small steps one at a time, noting your progress, to work towards the goal
    • finish the project

    It's tough. I have some big projects that were never "done" but they are all valuable learning experiences.

    Ken Gracey

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,677

    @"Ken Gracey" said:
    As for the root of your question - a lack of focus, if you truly desire more focus you must make it happen. Simply choose to finish a project, set it aside, and call it done when you're "done" with it. If it's not interesting, what's wrong with "moving on" if you aren't spending other people's money (like your employer, or a client)? A few more tips if you really want to finish things:

    • make your lunch ahead of time so it's not time-sink

    Lunch! What’s this? I found out when I semi-retired, something I mainly missed, and have now found around the waistline :)

    • keep the browsers closed unless you're getting a key resource

    Yes. Too much time reading this forum :(

    • put the phone on DND, except for your key family members

    They rarely call - I conditioned them years ago

    • think about the project goal with the steps in mind to achieve it

    Absolute given

    • write down the steps of the project, as you see them, in sequnce

    Good advice but never done - maybe my problem?

    • knock out the small steps one at a time, noting your progress, to work towards the goal

    Tick

    • finish the project

    Mostly tick

    It's tough. I have some big projects that were never "done" but they are all valuable learning experiences.

    Way too many hobby projects ended like this - quadcopter, 3D printer (ended up buying Ender 3) - best solution

    Ken Gracey

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,855

    "phone on DND":

    Never without my phone but rarely do I use it as such. I discovered the "Zello" app, years ago. No fumbling with VM or playing phone tag, just one touch of the screen and I talk, release and I listen. If it's not a convenient time (never is), my device will keep beeping at me until I acknowledge.
    If I need the message repeating I don't need the other party to repeat, I just hit the repeat button. It also supports text messages and one can create groups of up to 5 (more for the non-free version).

    Not sure about this but I seem to remember reading that they do some voice processing. For sure the sound quality is way better than regular phone.

  • @"Ken Gracey" said:

    • write down the steps of the project, as you see them, in sequnce
    • knock out the small steps one at a time, noting your progress, to work towards the goal

    To that: If you're already using version control, use the issue tracker that is surely attached to the repository to manage your tasks! Even when working alone. Being intrinsically linked to the project repository it is a lot harder to forget about it, compared to writing down the tasks in a random text file. I'm very bad at remembering to look at any tasks I write down for myself, so that is very helpful.

    And of course I can type a commit message like "Fix bug bla bla. Closes #123" and smite enter with intense satisfaction.

    @Mickster said:
    Not sure about this but I seem to remember reading that they do some voice processing. For sure the sound quality is way better than regular phone.

    The reason phone calls often soundso terrible is because there's a lot of outdated or misconfigured equipment in the chain. If you do a rain dance and the planets align it'll be a pure VoIP connection and negotiate a decent codec and then it will actually not sound like talking into a rusty watering can.

  • All good points and working to some extent but ok, I admit it was a bit of a provocation on my part.
    I was curious how others deal with distraction and to my surprise I discovered no one suggested what seems to work for me in real life quite effectively and that is actually managing (too big a word, I know) it.
    I plan for the distraction to happen because I know it will happen and can pretty well predict at which stage of the activity it is most probable to happen and what remains is only allowing the maximum time it might consume.
    Yes, it takes experience to tell how much time can be allowed as not to harm the schedule and yes, it takes discipline to stick to the plan but (most of the times) it works for me. I've learned the hard way that one needs to know when to quit before it's too late. That's the hardest part.

Sign In or Register to comment.