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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


Quite Distracting

It’s something everyone is guilty of when under pressure: Finding things to distract you from the (likely) more important task at hand. I remember my parents doing “busy work” when I was growing up, especially when there were stressful things waiting to be dealt with.

It occurred to me that I’m guilty of the same method of procrastination, however mundane the substituted task may be. Seemingly out of nowhere, when a deadline looms, the dishes need to be washed, bathroom cleaned, laundry done, shelves reorganized, garbage taken out, and a multitude of projects on my less-important to-do lists all seem to jump to the front of my mind.

I brought this up to a good friend the other day, and we compared notes–it was her opinion that we often let some of these tasks accrue over time, for the sole purpose of having things to distract us when we feel the need to procrastinate. I think I might agree with her, subconsiously of course, but it makes me curious: what do you do to distract yourself when the pressure builds? Or are you the type who doesn’t let themselves get off-track?

Come now, be honest: drop your distractions in the comments, if you don’t have anything more pressing to do first…

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006.


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14 comments on “Quite Distracting”

  1. Posted by Jina Bolton on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006.

    Me? Distracted? Heh, who am I kidding. I think you know what my distraction is…

  2. Posted by Jeff Croft on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006.

    I’m the type that’s never behind. I’m always on top of all my tasks. I never miss a deadline. Basically, I’m better than you.

  3. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006.

    In reality, Jeff’s list looks like this:

    • Check newsreader
    • Comment on every new post in the newsreader
    • Check newsreader again
    • Go out partying with chicks

  4. Posted by Jina Bolton on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006.

    Jeff has the life…

  5. Posted by Lance E. Leonard on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    I have a complete IA due to a client tomorrow and am gearing up for a late night tonight (it’s already 11pm). What got me here? Wasting all day painting random parts of the mural I’m doing in the nursery for our soon-to-be-born baby boy. Not quite as mundane as doing the dishes, and will probably be the looming deadline as we gear up for birth, but your post was a wee bit timely.

  6. Posted by Jeff Croft on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    Dan, you forgot the last step: “Come home to angry e-mails from project managers.”

  7. Posted by Thomas Baekdal on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    I usually find myself drawn towards several things (when on a deadline):

    – checking the newsreader (it was during a distraction that I noticed this post)
    – checking design, architecture or car design sites
    – start walking around in the office and probably annoying the everyone by doing so
    – drawing small cartoon figures (not very good ones)
    – feeling insanely frustrated by being distracted, and solve it by starring out the window to see if the trees do something funny (they rarely do)

  8. Posted by Anton on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    Well, I’d like to think that my distractions aren’t all so….

    …ooh look, something SHIINY (runs off).

  9. Posted by Matthew Anderson on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    I consider myself lucky to have discovered coffee at such an early age. If I ever get distracted I need only take a break, walk to get coffee and return to my desk. The act of getting coffee kicks in some placebo focus. The act of drinking it, keeps my focus going. Like I said though, I consider myself lucky.

  10. Posted by Mike Stickel on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    My distractions are those little “here, look at this link” messages I get from co-workers and friends who aren’t on the same deadline as I am. Of course, because I want to be cool like them I check the link and they keep sending them. Bastards!

    Other distractions are simply real life. At times it gets to a point where I don’t want to be in front of the computer any more so I go somewhere else, start having fun there and refuse to leave. Damn deadlines, whomever invented them needs to be tarred and feathered.

  11. Posted by luxuryluke on Thursday, August 31st, 2006.

    I’m never distrac….

    Woah, check this out!

    […walking away.]

  12. Posted by Steven Ametjan on Friday, September 1st, 2006.

    I do exactly what I’m doing now… I spend my day reading items in feeds rather than doing my actual work.

  13. Posted by Chris Griffin on Friday, September 1st, 2006.

    My distraction is down at the moment (Bloglines), and has been down most of the day WTF! As soon as it comes back up I’m packing up my OPML and hitting the road.

    But its even more distracting now because I keep refreshing because I need to know what’s going on here on the internets! I guess Bloglines’s series of tubes are clogged.

  14. Posted by Chris Griffin on Friday, September 1st, 2006.

    Ha, your blog is magic. The second after I post that comment, lo and behold bloglines is back up.