The Difficulty Of Doing Something

07 Apr 2023 - Tobias Klöpper

… or why it takes me so long to write a blog post.

The difficulty of doing something

Sitting down to do something has always been a problem for me. If I do not start my planned task immediately I get distracted. There is always something else to do instead of doing what I initially planned to do.

There has been an update for an app or a game? Let’s check that out! My favourite channel on youtube about bouldering published a new video? Let me see that. Oh let me open reddit for a minute to see if something new happened? No, unfortunately not.

It feels like the distraction is always around and our dopamine powered brain wants to get the next new hit by doing the least minimal effort [1]. Looking back this theorem accompanied me throughout my school and university time. In the end it all came down to reaching the desired goal with the lowest effort I can put in.

Is studying for only half an hour weeks before the final test good enough? Yeah, let’s play some video games. My final thesis is due in 4 weeks? Maybe I should download this dating app.

In the end everything got done with minimal effort. Putting more effort towards these goals probably would have made it easier, but the results would have been the same.

Methods to avoid distraction

During all this studying and learning I implemented some ideas/methods to get right down to the tasks. The following three methods were the most effective to prevent me from sidetracking:

  1. Using Lofi as background music [2].
    • This has an enormous effect on my mentality. The music “hides itself” and improves my focus on the task at hand.
  2. Writing down what to do and making tasks out of one bigger project. Also blocking time in my calendar for these tasks.
    • Sitting down to write out a task helps me stay in focus. This also prevents me from opening reddit aimlessly.
  3. Using the pomodoro technique [3] to differentiate between study blocks and study breaks.
    • Applying this method increased my productivity and the free time can be used for e.g. surfing the web. You can read more about programming a discord pomodoro bot in my corresponding blog post.

Applying some or all methods helped me increase my productivity. I also heard about the forest app which blocks almost all apps on your phone. But I have not tried that yet. Let me know your opinions on the forest app.

Getting things done

I think it all comes down to start doing what you set out to do. Not thinking about doing that one awesome task while surfing the web. You have to block time for yourself and start working on that task that you are dreading to do for weeks. Sometimes your short time thinking brain may win. But the long term reward for doing your stuff heavily outweighs the short term dopamine.

Writing this blog post made me think about Shia la Beouf. His famous speech gets to the quintessence of this post [4].