Our forms of distractions and obsessions vary individually. Many of mine concern the interminable and compulsive tinkering with my computing setup. I call this the lateral growth.
For many of such activities are not strictly wasteful. One, it’s a hobby, and two, much of the tinkering renders impact. It creates ideas, simplifies my life and enhances domain knowledge. Much of it inspires content for this blog.
The tinkering is thus inherent to the lifestyle. But I still consider it lateral growth, for in many instances the intent is to work on something else entirely (ex: write a larger publication).
Likewise, not all lateral growth is uniformly prioritized. Recently I spent hours in the trenches of poorly written C code to slightly enhance one, largely inconsequential piece of functionality of one utility of only sporadic use. I wasn’t content with the performance nor the aesthetics, hence overindulged, neglecting the cost-benefit.
Such lateral growth is numerous and varied in pragmatic scope:
- Optimizing aliases, shortcuts, automations
- Dot-files refactoring (Unix configuration files)
- Introducing new backup procedures, reconfiguring the existing, eliminating the unnecessary. See digital literring
- The cleaning/squashing of dense git repositories
- Reorganization/cleaning of the file system
- Tagging content
- VIM magic tricks
When writing by hand, I also found myself pausing to meta-analyze efficiency, introduce new shorthand candidates and revise the existing. Rather than fully engage in the flow of writing, I’ve a tendency to let this habit spawn dangerous lateral growth.
And this is when the mind doesn’t succumb to the mania of mental dissection of objects in the surrounding field of attention.
I suppose a passionate mechanic can similarly indulge in the lateral growth of garage and car maintenance. Or a hobbyist electrician with transistors and digital logic. Or a disk-jockey with vinyls and playlists.
I am, however, infinitely grateful that my distractions concern the domain of much (albeit obsessive) cleaning, simplicity and automation.
Some become hopelessly engulfed in social network feeds, phones, messengers, photographs, films, video games, forums, news updates or shopping.
Thankfully these are non-issues for me. I don’t even tolerate much viewing of dense websites nowadays - those I cannot open in a simple text browser like W3M. See my other strategies for having reduced much of the distracting stimuli and the clutches of multi-tasking.
All the same, it’s important to keep the main pursuit on the radar. No lateral growth should take priority. Not until the former has been dutifully attended.
Questions, comments? Connect.