Disconnecting Distraction|保持专注

Note: The strategy described at the end of this essay didn’t work. It would work for a while, and then I’d gradually find myself using the Internet on my work computer. I’m trying other strategies now, but I think this time I’ll wait till I’m sure they work before writing about them.

May 2008

Procrastination feeds on distractions. Most people find it uncomfortable just to sit and do nothing; you avoid work by doing something else.
分心会导致拖延。很多人在无所事事的时候感到不自在,人们通过做些其他的事情来避开工作。

So one way to beat procrastination is to starve it of distractions. But that’s not as straightforward as it sounds, because there are people working hard to distract you. Distraction is not a static obstacle that you avoid like you might avoid a rock in the road. Distraction seeks you out.
所以战胜拖延的一个办法就是消除分心的事物。但是可没那么简单,因为很多人都在努力让你分心。分心不是一成不变的障碍,你不可能像避开马路上的石头那样避开分心的事物。分心的事物会自己找上门来。

Chesterfield described dirt as matter out of place. Distracting is, similarly, desirable at the wrong time. And technology is continually being refined to produce more and more desirable things. Which means that as we learn to avoid one class of distractions, new ones constantly appear, like drug-resistant bacteria.
Chesterfield把摆放不当的东西称为垃圾。同样,在错误的时间出现的欲望就是分心。科技的不断进步带来了越来越多的分心事物。也就是说当我们学会避免一些分心事物的时候,总会有新的分心事物出现,就好比是抗药细菌一样。

Television, for example, has after 50 years of refinement reached the point where it’s like visual crack. I realized when I was 13 that TV was addictive, so I stopped watching it. But I read recently that the average American watches?4 hours?of TV a day. A quarter of their life.
比如电视,经过50年的不断改进,电视已经成为一种视觉毒品。我在13岁的时候意识到看电视会上瘾,就不再看电视了。但是我最近从书上看到普通美国人每天看四个小时的电视。人一生的四分之一的时间啊。

TV is in decline now, but only because people have found even more addictive ways of wasting time. And what’s especially dangerous is that many happen at your computer. This is no accident. An ever larger percentage of office workers sit in front of computers connected to the Internet, and distractions always evolve toward the procrastinators.
现在电视走向衰退了,但只是因为人们找到了更容易上瘾的办法来消磨时间。尤其危险的是电脑。这并不是巧合。大量的办公室员工坐在联网的电脑前,分心经常导致拖延。

I remember when computers were, for me at least, exclusively for work. I might occasionally dial up a server to get mail or ftp files, but most of the time I was offline. All I could do was write and program. Now I feel as if someone snuck a television onto my desk. Terribly addictive things are just a click away. Run into an obstacle in what you’re working on? Hmm, I wonder what’s new online. Better check.
至少对我而言,电脑曾经只是为工作专用。我只是为了接收邮件或者ftp文件才拨号上网,大部分时间都离线。我所做的一切就是写代码和编程。现在我感觉到好比有人又把电视摆到了我的桌子上。一点鼠标就可以得到极易上瘾的东西。在工作中遇到问题了?嗯,我想知道网上有什么新消息。最好上网查一下。

After years of carefully avoiding classic time sinks like TV, games, and Usenet, I still managed to fall prey to distraction, because I didn’t realize that it evolves. Something that used to be safe, using the Internet, gradually became more and more dangerous. Some days I’d wake up, get a cup of tea and check the news, then check email, then check the news again, then answer a few emails, then suddenly notice it was almost lunchtime and I hadn’t gotten any real work done. And this started to happen more and more often.
多年以来我一直避开那些浪费时间的东西,电视,游戏和新闻组(Usernet),但是我还是受到了分心的干扰,因为我根本没有意识到分心的存在。上网本来是很安全的事情,但是慢慢地变得越来越危险。有时候,我一觉醒来,喝杯咖啡,看看新闻,然后查收邮件,接着再看看新闻,然后回复几封邮件,然后突然意识到快该吃午饭了,工作却没有什么实质进展。而且这种现象越来越严重。

It took me surprisingly long to realize how distracting the Internet had become, because the problem was intermittent. I ignored it the way you let yourself ignore a bug that only appears intermittently. When I was in the middle of a project, distractions weren’t really a problem. It was when I’d finished one project and was deciding what to do next that they always bit me.
我用了很长时间才发现互联网是多么让人分心,因为这个问题是断断续续的。我经常把它当作一个偶尔出现的问题忽略掉。在一个项目中期,分心倒不算大问题。但是当我完成项目,决定下一步做什么的时候,互联网尤其让我抓狂。

Another reason it was hard to notice the danger of this new type of distraction was that social customs hadn’t yet caught up with it. If I’d spent a whole morning sitting on a sofa watching TV, I’d have noticed very quickly. That’s a known danger sign, like drinking alone. But using the Internet still looked and felt a lot like work.
人们没有意识到这种危险的另外一个原因就是因为它尚未遭到社会否定。如果我整个上午都坐在沙发上看电视,我会很快意识到这一点。这是一种明显的危险信号,有点像一个人喝闷酒。但是使用互联网看上去依然和工作没什么两样。

Eventually, though, it became clear that the Internet had become so much more distracting that I had to start treating it differently. Basically, I had to add a new application to my list of known time sinks: Firefox.
但是,我终于意识到互联网太让我分心了,我不得不去改变它。说实话,我不得不在我的分心事物黑名单中增加一个新程序:firefox。

* * *

The problem is a hard one to solve because most people still need the Internet for some things. If you drink too much, you can solve that problem by stopping entirely. But you can’t solve the problem of overeating by stopping eating. I couldn’t simply avoid the Internet entirely, as I’d done with previous time sinks.
这个问题很棘手,因为大部分人需要使用互联网工作。如果你酗酒严重,你可以通过戒酒来解决问题。但是你不能通过绝食来解决暴食的问题。我不能像对待其他分心事物一样完全戒掉互联网。

At first I tried rules. For example, I’d tell myself I was only going to use the Internet twice a day. But these schemes never worked for long. Eventually something would come up that required me to use it more than that. And then I’d gradually slip back into my old ways.
首先我尝试用规则约束自己。比如,我告诉自己一天只上两次网。但是这些计划都无法长期奏效。最后总会有一些事情让我打破这个规则,然后又重蹈覆辙。

Addictive things have to be treated as if they were sentient adversaries—as if there were a little man in your head always cooking up the most plausible arguments for doing whatever you’re trying to stop doing. If you leave a path to it, he’ll find it.
你不得不把上瘾的东西当成是有知觉的对手,他好比是你大脑里的一个小家伙,他总能找到让你“再犯”的办法。只要你给他留下活路,他总会死灰复燃。

The key seems to be visibility. The biggest ingredient in most bad habits is denial. So you have to make it so that you can’t merely?slip?into doing the thing you’re trying to avoid. It has to set off alarms.
关键问题似乎是视觉。大部分坏习惯都是由于缺乏自制力养成的。所以你必须克制自己,不给自己偷偷犯错的机会。必须要设定警报。

Maybe in the long term the right answer for dealing with Internet distractions will be?software?that watches and controls them. But in the meantime I’ve found a more drastic solution that definitely works: to set up a separate computer for using the Internet.
从长期来看,应对互联网分心问题的有效办法将是监控互联网活动的软件。但是我还发现了一个更加有效的解决办法:使用单独的电脑上网。

I now leave wifi turned off on my main computer except when I need to transfer a file or edit a web page, and I have a separate laptop on the other side of the room that I use to check mail or browse the web. (Irony of ironies, it’s the computer Steve Huffman wrote Reddit on. When Steve and Alexis auctioned off their old laptops for charity, I bought them for the Y Combinator museum.)
现在,我常用电脑上的无线宽带处于关闭状态,除非传送文件或者编辑网页才使用,我使用放在另外一间屋子里的另一台笔记本电脑查收邮件或者浏览网页。(最有意思的是,这台电脑是Steve Huffman编写Reddit时使用的电脑。当Steve和Alexis慈善拍卖旧笔记本时,我为Y Combinator博物馆买下了这些旧笔记本。)

My rule is that I can spend as much time online as I want, as long as I do it on that computer. And this turns out to be enough. When I have to sit on the other side of the room to check email or browse the web, I become much more aware of it. Sufficiently aware, in my case at least, that it’s hard to spend more than about an hour a day online.
我的规则是我可以在网上停留很长时间,只要是在那台笔记本上。事实证明这足够了,当我不得不坐在另一间屋子里查收邮件或浏览网页时,我会很清楚自己在做什么。至少对我而言,非常清楚每天上网超过一个小时是多么的困难。

And my main computer is now freed for work. If you try this trick, you’ll probably be struck by how different it feels when your computer is disconnected from the Internet. It was alarming to me how foreign it felt to sit in front of a computer that could only be used for work, because that showed how much time I must have been wasting.
我的常用电脑只用于工作,如果你也这么做,你很可能会惊讶于电脑断网后的感觉。坐在一台只能用于工作目的的电脑前让我保持警觉,因为它告诉我已经浪费了多少时间。

Wow. All I can do at this computer is work. Ok, I better work then.
哇。我在这台电脑上只能工作。好吧,赶紧工作吧。

That’s the good part. Your old bad habits now help you to work. You’re used to sitting in front of that computer for hours at a time. But you can’t browse the web or check email now. What are you going to do? You can’t just sit there. So you start working.
这是好事。原来的坏毛病帮助你工作。你已经习惯于一连好几个小时坐在这台电脑前面。但是你无法浏览网页或者查收邮件。你会做什么呢?你不能坐着无所事事。所以你就开始工作吧。

via: http://www.paulgraham.com/distraction.html

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