Can distractions be helpful?

From birth on, my baby already had her traits: nice and quiet, patient, only using the sound of “crying” to “tell” us to check in with her needs.

She’s almost six months old now. Every day she’s become a little more like herself.

But there are still moments where something else takes over her. I can feel that she’s fighting that thing, whenever she’s tired, hungry, anxious, or scared. It’s like only one of them can be in front of the stage and she’s fighting for the right to stay.

What helps her at this moment is some kind of distraction.

If she shifts her focus on something else, away from her hunger, tiredness, or insecurity, she could stay.

Is distraction helpful to pull us out of our own obsessions too?

When we feel we are stuck, trapped, or swamped in something – “taken over by something” – can we use distraction to pull us out, too? In the end, our obsessions are just one aspect of our realities.

There’s always something

There’s always something.

There’s always something that’s going to be on my mind which I will appoint as the thing that’s “pressuring me”. The reason why I can’t live in the present moment. The reason why I am not doing the thing I want to do but the thing I have to do.

I don’t know since when I started living the life from appointment to appointment. Deadline to deadline. Without knowing, I live by calendars and schedules. There’s always something coming up. If it’s not in the near future, like next week, it’s in the further future, like next year.

I’m tired of this.

Never forget your “why”

“We’ve come so far, that we forgot why we started in the first place.”

We have limited attention every day. People get easily distracted these days, but we are still good at getting fixated on something and forgetting everything else at the same time. Especially when we are frustrated if things in front of our eyes are not going our way.

But why we started is far more important than why is the bike not working properly. I mean, if you want to get somewhere, you can ride a bike, walk, drive a car, take a bus, train, plane… just get there. The more time you spend being frustrated about something that doesn’t really matter (because there’s another way to do it), the longer it’s going to take you back to your journey.

That’s why it’s always important to revisit your “why”.

My suggestion: setting a reoccurring event to revisit your why in your calendar. And set the reminder of the event as via email. You can do it how often you need it. I’m setting it every two weeks for now. And it works very well. I’m always reminded of my big why and it motivates me every time when I look at it.

Streaks: good or bad?

Now I’d like to write my thoughts on “streaks”.

The platform I’m holding my blog has the notification of announcing your posting streak every time you hit “publish”. It is motivating to see that streak number goes higher and higher, especially when it’s over 30, and then 50, and then 80.

I didn’t care about keeping streaks until I did it without knowing it. I was used to ignore things like that, since I didn’t like that pressure a single number puts on me. A two-day streak or a five-day streak doesn’t matter. Since it’s not difficult to achieve, it doesn’t hurt to lose it.

One day after publishing a post, I noticed I’ve achieved the 30-day mark. “This is doable. I might just keep it.” I thought.

But there’s immediately a problem. Keeping the streak for the sake of “keeping the streak” in the system can make you do some insincere things. You can post some random words and then hide the post immediately, to get the streak going; then you can add content to the post the next day. The good thing is the streak is kept and you can keep going; the bad thing is it’s… cheating. And cheating the system is meaningless, and stupid. Yet you feel compelled to do it anyway.

The purpose of keeping the streak to post is meant to keep me moving, at least a little bit every day. But the streak itself – the means – gets in the way of the real work and blurs the real purpose.
Just when got overwhelmed for a day, I missed that post. The 80-day streak is broken. And it’s been hard for me to keep going since then.

So, is keeping streaks a good mechanism to motivate or not? How should we balance the work itself (creating) and the means (keeping the streak to create ever day) to get to our goals?

Back to simplicity

What to do when you feel stuck and overwhelmed?

Pick up a pen and a paper. They always do the trick for me.

Think about this: feeling stuck and overwhelmed is mostly resulted from overload. It can be information overload, emotion overload, choices overload, etc.

Life is complex. You don’t need me to tell you that.

Let’s face it, even when you feel like you don’t have anything for that blank page, the truth is that you have too much to say to pick anything to say.

So the trick here is simple (pun) — keep it simple.

Go back to the basics.

The most basic form, the most basic exercise, the most basic system.

Go back to the math, the simple dance steps, moves, music notes, concepts and ideas.

Go back to using nothing but a yoga matte, to drawing with one pencil, and one colour.

Go back to practicing the Hanon Exercises.

Go back to writing in pen and paper.

Go back to everything’s original point, point zero.

To where everything began. So that the fog can be dispersed, and eventually disappear.

Inspired by the simplicity, the core structure, the most basic of the basics. That’s what we can do when we cannot move forward.

Go for imperfection

There’s no better way to get better at something than going for imperfection. And there’s no worse thing than going after perfection.

When you do some work, better do it every day, you can look at it and say, “It’s ready to go, because it’s imperfect.”

Only when you doing something every day, and when not doing it becomes the exception, can you call yourself a professional.

That’s why the trick here is this: if you want to get better at something to become a pro at it, you goal can be simply “doing imperfect work every single day”.

And keep that streak. And let “no-work-done day” be an extremely rare exception.

More time and more money? Pay attention to this

Guess what it is.

Grand goal? Endurance? Persistence?

They are all important… but there’s something that are in front of our eyes the whole time, but we sometimes choose not to see them.

When we talk about our work, our encounters with our clients and partners, what always seem invisible but crucial?

You have your goals set, plans made, ideas validated and you have started working on achieving them.

You encounter roadblocks and you overcome them; you have problems and you solve them.

You generate new ideas despite it’s difficult and frustrating as hell.

Still, something still so small are still causing troubles. They are everywhere and they really frustrate us.

Because if we fail to see them, we’ve got to redo our work, and the setback can mean days, weeks, or worse.

They are called “details”.

No matter whether you think you are a “big picture” person or an executioner, a dreamer or a producer, you are a fool if you say that you don’t need to care about the details.

Even for trials, details are significant indicators to whether something might work or not. Every designer should know that.

Some details might really don’t matter that much. But the ability to pay attention to detail is a must have. Because you don’t know which one detail is more important than others when you are in the flow of creating.

Time is the most valuable currency. Lacking of attention to details turns out to be extremely costly.

So if you want to be productive and rich, you know I’m right.

What hinders your creativity the most?

Since I call myself a writer, I’m ashamed to say that my most prolific time of writing is when I was in school.

We had two writing classes per week. Every class was 90 minutes long. We got a writing prompt at the beginning of the class, and we spent the rest of the time conceptualizing and composing. 

When I was in college, I changed my writing routine to every Friday afternoon for two hours. My reason to only have two hours per week was that I had other classes to focus on – my college major was not Creative Writing. So two hours of writing was all that I deserved. 

It’s been three years since I graduated with my M.A. I had been struggling with writing all the time. Much more than before. 

I didn’t call myself a writer. Not when I was not published. Not when I didn’t have a writing schedule that could make me feel my “flow of inspiration” and “water spring of productivity”.

Now I do see myself as a writer. Because I write regularly anywhere online, and I have an audience.

Someone reads my story and likes it. That is good enough for me to keep writing.

Writing is creating, and self-caring for me. The creative aspect of it sometimes serves the opposite purpose of self-caring.

To be completely honest, it stresses me out.

It stresses me out because it’s “supposed” to be in some way. Like the girls are supposed to be obedient and the boys must be tough. 

Creativity starts personal and private. What’s personal and private is subjective. What’s subjective is never limited to being in some “supposed-to-be” way.

It’s that simple.

So yeah, I started conceptualizing this post by making the following list:

What does not hinder your creativity:

  • gadgets
  • big chunk of time
  • endless resources
  • huge pool/endless information

What actually hinder your creativity:

  • perfectionism
  • impatience
  • inflexibility/stubbornness
  • lack of confidence

But I’m just going to let all of this go for now.

Because:

Despite it’s true, that we don’t need gadgets, a big chunk of time, much information to be creative, and it’s true that we need to work on our perfectionism, impatience, stubbornness, and lack of confidence, the only way to be creative and keep being creative is by simply doing it.

Doing it without considering the word that carries tons of weight — “be creative”.

That word can make things really difficult if you put that on your shoulder.

“I’m a creator so I need to be creative and I have to keep being creative…”

No. Just create. And create some more. 

Find your time. Enjoy your time to create and work on your craft.

Find your audience who appreciate your voice.

That’s enough. Do your work, and have fun.

So my conclusion is this: what hinders my creativity the most is the burden of the word “creativity” entails.