One Year Of Discipline, Day 11 – Distractions

Getting distracted the right way.

As I am balancing a day job in research with writing this blog, it’s really important for me to make the most out of my time.

One Year Of Discipline

This figure demonstrates the difference between progress with “bad” (-> twitter etc.) and “good” distractions (-> taking a walk etc.). If I let my mind stay engaged with the computer screen during breaks, it will react to random impressions on the screen and divert from my original task, making it harder to get back.

During my NoNothingNovember challenge, I decided to ditch all social media – except for a brief posting of my Happiness Habit items. As a result, I became very productive. Then I made the classical mistake and stopped my efforts. Now that everything was fine, I thought I could enjoy Facebook and Twitter without getting distracted by it. I was wrong. Lately, I have watched myself going onto these sites far too often. These distractions add up.

But wait a second. What can possibly be wrong with checking my twitter feed, an interesting webpage or my Facebook account while running an errand? After all, I can’t work during those 5 – 10 minutes anyway.

The problem is not doing something different from my work. If I work without a break, I eventually get tired and become less efficient.

Distractions are good, as long as they truly refresh and stimulate my mind.

But if I sit in front of the computer and then, on my breaks, still check:

  1. social media like Facebook, Twitter etc.
  2. my eMails
  3. a YouTube video
  4. gossip and click-baiting sites
  5. etc.

– then I am just diverting my resources into areas that have nothing to do with the task I am working on. My brain is still busy and gets tired out.

When we work on a task, we are building momentum. Like a millstone that turns slowly at first and subsequently faster, our mind needs to be switched on and then works better and better.

Imagine we are driving with a car towards a certain destination. We want to take a break from time to time – so we drive to a parking lot. We step outside, stretch, maybe get a coffee or take a short walk. Once we are refreshed, we continue right where we stopped.

Imagine what would happen if instead of driving onto the parking lot, we continued driving, but now aimlessly. After 10 minutes of driving without any direction whatsoever, we try to go back to our original route. Now we have to first check where we are. We have to find the right road back and still really did not have a break.

So what other activities could I do instead of twitter etc.?

–           getting a glass of water;

–           picking up the mail;

–           going for a short walk;

–           talking to colleagues;

–           calling a friend;

–           doing a different aspect of work that does not involve working on a computer screen – for example, in my line of research work, I could set up some experiments for the next day.

You want to get your mind off the screen or whatever activity you are doing.

On towards Day 11!

Below you will find

(a) a quick description how I fared on my main goals – losing body fat, working on my blog, installing good habits;

(b) my thoughts for the day;

(c) how the rest of the program went and whether there were any irregularities or other noteworthy points.

Day 11

Losing body fat

I was a bit shocked to see my body fat once again climb 2% higher to 23.3%. One day makes that much of a difference??

Probably partially a result from yesterday’s cheat day. At least the percentage is less than a week ago. Overall, the tendency is down. Maybe I’ll reduce the mount of sweets further.

Today’s juice: Carrot-Apple-Ginger.

I have also decided to resolve drinking one glass of juice every day.

Calisthenics routine:

33 good form push-ups + 87 in worse form (half way down)

120 squats in good form. The muscles in my right upper leg hurt a bit, so I took a break after the first 30 squats, then continued. The pain is a bit of a nuisance, but hopefully nothing serious.

120 sit-ups in good form.


Working on my blog

I planned the next week and am almost through with the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

If you already want to check the book out, you can click here. (*)


(a) Emotional Health: I called my father and mother back in Germany. Had long talks with both of them. My father is learning about the Song of the Nibelungen, an old nordic saga in Europe. He has agreed to provide me with some texts for this blog, about which I am of course very happy and excited. He is looking at ways in which we can apply the motifs and themes from this old myth onto our current time.

(b) Spiritual Health: I continued the Happiness Habit. What was I grateful for?

1. The freedom to use my time any way I want.
2. My Green Card process moving along.
3. That steady work lets me accomplish my goals.

(c) Mental Health.

You are immersed in your work, then you have to take care of an urgent matter.
10 ideas how you minimize the impact of this distraction on your work.
1. Speak out loud (or write down) the last step you were working on – and the step that would come next.
2. Define the parts in your work that you can leave unattended, so you are not leaving a crucial step.
3. Ask somebody else to either take care of the urgent matter or your work while you are gone.
4. Keep a detailed step-by-step journal of your work, so you can follow up.
5. Focus COMPLETELY on the urgent matter and don’t start anything else that could further distract you.
6. Arrange all the tools you work with so everything is easily accessible and in front of you.
7. Get enough sleep. Seriously, you will be able to focus better.
8. Stay hydrated, so you keep alert.
9. Before you interrupt your work, visualize what completing the work would mean for you, so you are emotionally connected and “can’t wait” to get back to your work. That should help you in general to reduce unnecessary “clutter” from your life. Alternatively, visualize what would happen if you were NOT to complete the work.
10. While you take care of the “urgent matter”, talk to people about the work you are currently doing, so you mentally stay on task.

The really interesting observation I have about this “idea muscle” exercise is that the first handful of ideas are easy to come by. Then, I don’t imagine I can come up with any more ideas, but after a while of thinking about it, my mind comes up with ideas 4 – 10. All I have to do is simply NOT GIVING UP. How many ideas have I fell short of in my life so far just by not trying enough? Not anymore!

Thoughts for the day

What did I do well?
Continued working towards my goals.

What do I want to improve?
1. I am slightly slacking on my 750 words a day goal. I do write them, but I constantly forget to log them into the website. As result, I am sabotaging building up my own streak.
2. I always write down my 10 ideas as the last activity of the day. Then it feels like an ordeal that reaches into my sleep.

How will I improve?
1. The easiest thing is to just copy-paste the texts I write in Day One or Word into the interface of That requires a better focus and better sleep (as a base for the focus) each and every day. 6 hours no matter what.
2. I will just do the 10 ideas on my lunch break. And think about the topics a week in advance.

How did the rest of “30 Days of Discipline” go?

Let me list the 12 items here:

3 meals or less? Check. Though I don’t count the juice as meal.

Getting up between 5 and 7 am? Check – got up at 7 am.

Cold shower? Check.

No porn and masturbation? Check.

Calisthenics? Check, see above.

Dress your best today? Check.

Write my daily to-do list? Check.

Stand tall and proud like a lion? Check.

No excuses, no explanation, no bullshit? Check.

Made notes? Check, you find them above.

Worked toward my personal goals? Check, worked on blog.

and, uhm… Video Summary of Day 11 😉


To check the description of the “One Year of Discipline” challenge, click here.

To see yesterday’s post, click here.

To get back to the homepage, click here.

(*) I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.