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Cutting away Distractions

Ryan Norton
An Aspiring Developer looking to start a career in tech.
・2 min read

At the time of this post, I wouldn't call myself a developer. My experience in coding involves one Python, SQL, and two Java courses so far. At best, I'm at the very beginning of my journey.

But I'm not letting that stop me.

There's something about myself that I've learned during my journey taking online courses over the past year and a half. This lesson had to be learned over and over by yours truly, and I'm fairly certain it has happened to you as well.

I get distracted very easily... and I find that the main distraction is, of course, from my smart phone.

Just think of the irony of it all! A hand-held computer which has evolved into a computing machine that is often more reliable than a full sized PC! In our hands we hold more access to all the knowledge in the world faster than the countless generations before us, yet I find this wonderfully useful device hinders me when it comes to my work.

I work in manufacturing all day. It's hot, and there's no service or Wifi to allow me to get distracted other than breaks. That portion of my life is not what I'm worried about. Between work and family life with a loving wife and an unstoppable toddler on my hands, it's the precious few hours in the week that I am supposed to be filling with productivity in completing assignments, reading materials, and hopefully some off-subject programming on my own as I flail to grasp my first language fully. Yes, this is where I get distracted.

My phone has caused me to get horribly behind in more than one session of classes over the past few months, causing my stress and anxiety to skyrocket, affecting my life in every aspect to where I'm left as an over-caffeinated, overworked mess.

I knew I had to make a decision, and if you're facing this problem as well, you can solve it with me.

Tonight, as I finish this post, is the first time I've turned my phone down, and left it charging in the other room. To truly make the most of the time you have to learn at the starting line of your development career, you absolutely MUST eliminate all distraction. For me, it wasn't enough to turn off my notifications. My phone still sat next to my mouse, taunting me with the full possibility of laughs or cringes or interesting facts that Reddit, imgur or Twitter could throw at me.

I would give in. Every. Single. Time.

If you're struggling with keeping focus where it matters, whether you're building your first website, learning the basic data structures of Java, or just trying to figure out what you want to do with your life... take the distraction away. Don't try to resist it. Run from it!

It will do you so much good. It already has for me.

-Ryan

Discussion (14)

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jeanbernard profile image
Jean Bernard

The world is very noisy right now, notifications everywhere! Best tip is to only open the browser tabs that you need for work/study and put down that damn phone.

The world isn't going to end if you just take 45 minutes of pure concentration.

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beyondsomeone profile image
Cristiano

Tip: Try to get into a relaxed mood before study, use affirmations and let your purpose clear, e.g. "I am studying this lecture to understand better the java structure." This little tip shall help you a lot.

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rjpsyco009 profile image
Ryan Norton Author

Sweet! I'll try that today! Thanks!

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dennisfen profile image
Denis Borisevich • Edited

I have this distraction problem too. I have found some sort of a cure for it — pomodoro technique. It's much easier to find willpower to fully concentrate for a short period of time (25 minutes by default) than for some undefined prolonged period. And these 5 minute breaks between working sets could be treated as 'rewards' when you can read Twitter, Reddit, etc. or even better stand from your desk, stretch a little.
Good luck!

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rjpsyco009 profile image
Ryan Norton Author

I'll be trying this tonight! 👍

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paulosv profile image
Jimmy

I'm surprised it's just your phone. I face all kinds of distraction from my laptop, and the most prominent are emails, Youtube and Twitter. Hard to run away from that. And various things work for me at various moments. Sometimes I just block these sites and news sites, and I can mostly work in peace. Yet not always, and then my concentration is usually doomed. Sometimes for the whole day. So I'm really glad that you found something that works for you!

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rjpsyco009 profile image
Ryan Norton Author

Thanks! I think the phone is the strongest source of distraction simply because I'm in such a habit of having in in my hands all day long, regardless of whether I'm near a computer. Youtube used to be a big weakness for me as well, though not nearly as bad as the social media traffic that seems to compel me to just scroll and scroll.

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jlhcoder profile image
James Hood

Great post and totally agreed! Just recently read this interview where Christopher Nolan says he doesn't even allow phones on set.

esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a...

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rjpsyco009 profile image
Ryan Norton Author

"The illusion of multitasking"
Boy is this a true statement! I have found that multitasking is such a downfall for me, especially in my journey of learning code! It requires all your attention!

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David Prothero

Nice post! Really good personal insights here and definitely worth sharing. I've learned similar strategies to trying to maintain focus, but it's so easy to fall back into old habits. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

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rjpsyco009 profile image
Ryan Norton Author

I appreciate all the feedback. I've only joined DEV for a short while. Definitely a fantastic source of encouragement!

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aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

Biggest distraction for me is background noise. We have an open floor at my work and even with headphones I have a hard time to focus.

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alt_lv profile image
alt (Guna)

good luck :)

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Thanks for sharing! It helps me a lot to hear others having similar problems like distractions, and motivates me to get less distracted.