I have this problem when I sit down to read, write or revise. It only happens when I’m trying to do something I care about, but at that moment, that one moment when I decide “okay, let’s do some work”, I’ll find something more interesting to do. It seems like facebook could be checked just one more time, twitter could be looked at, or the random button on wikipedia might bring up the most interesting thing on the internet.
I don’t know why this happens or why I do it, but I sure do it a lot. Quite often I’ll think to myself that it’s because I’m not really interested in what I’m doing, and this worries me. It’s exactly that, though: worry. It happens because I’m worried I’ll do something wrong, mess up my report or not be able to understand what I’m reading. It’s as if my brain stops working when I try to put my head down and learn.
It’s a problem of focus, hitting the zone and staying with something regardless of how much anxiety it causes. I’ve been working on being more mindful about myself lately, not running down the garden path with any feelings, and am having relative success with it. Like everything, there’s good days and bad days. One thing I have noticed, though, is that it only really happens in relation to things with assessments. I’ve happily spent whole days reading fiction, learning chess and writing, but if I was working towards a concrete goal like playing in a tournament? Then it would very likely be a different case.
Assessment is pressure, pressure is worry and worry is distraction. We can mitigate through knowing that worry is temporary and by being mindful enough not to let our feelings lead us astray, but this is only a temporary solution and there will always be something to move us away. Don’t ask for answers, I’m still working on it and doubt there really is one. I’m hopeful, though. I am.
I read once about a person that demanded happiness, asserting “I want happiness”. A much smarter person broke this down, helped him to see why thinking like that would never get him it: the ‘I’ is egotistical and the ‘want’ is a product of desire. When these are removed, all that’s left is happiness. Perhaps a similar thing exists here: when the idea of assessment is removed, or rather when you deal with the notion of “I want a good mark”, you need to remove the egotistical desire from it and then you’re free just to experience the process of achieving something. I’ll let you know how that one goes.