Tricking Yourself into Working

I’ve noticed something about myself and a good number of my peers: we don’t focus well. Our attention spans are remarkably short and it takes a moderate amount of stimulation to keep us engaged.

Clearly, this is a problem for studying and for working. The longer we’re told to sit and do one thing, the less attention we manage to put on that one thing.

So we often have to force ourselves to concentrate, which is tiring and breeds frustration, or we have to trick ourselves into working. I’ve gotten fairly good at that second one.

I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month a few times. I won the first four times. The last times that I lost, I figured out what was missing: Games. Word wars, sprints, write-ins and friends had stopped being a part of it for me. I didn’t have my buddies in the computer lab or the coffee shop with me all the time. The write-ins weren’t every night and most were in other locations, so I didn’t go to many of those.

I wasn’t making NaNoWriMo fun for myself anymore so I was getting distracted and doing other things like Tumblr and cartoons.

But these blog posts and drabbles I’m gonna be writing for the year, they’re fun. I’m not gonna look for a topic that fits or try to make this blog about anything. I could write about ways to kill a man and get away with it, according to Tumblr and that would be okay. This blog is about having fun.

Which means I’ll probably have a few fandom posts and lots of memes. I may even go somewhere and take pictures of everything I see. Cause it could be fun.

I also find that when I’m writing, I can’t seem to keep focused on the text. A plain text editor like MS Word doesn’t keep me engaged. At some point, I’m just watching the cursor blink for eternity. But some text editors are brilliant and help me keep engaged with fun rewards, like Written? Kitten!, or with prods to bring me back, like on Write or Die.

But blogging isn’t the only thing in my life. I also build websites. The coding websites itself can be fun and stimulating by itself, but I’m not as good at some skills as I’d like to be. Maybe I can bring fun into my continuing education stuff.

A coworker shared a game called Code Combat with me the other day. It teaches you javascript syntax as you play so it looks and feels like you’re playing a game but you’re really learning new skills.

Some of the tutorials you come across are designed to be stimulating in the same way as a game. With Hackety.com, you can learn the Ruby programming language.

And after all that learning and writing, you’re gonna need a break. But if you still want to look productive, Can’t You See I’m Busy is a site full of games that make you look like you’re working on boring things like charts and graphs.

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