Friday, May 29, 2020

How Distractions Hurt Your Twitch Channel

In several previous entries, I've spoken about how to remove low-value activities from your life in order to make room for your Twitch streaming dream. Facebook, Netflix binges, aimless web browsing, anything that eats away at the time you could be using to make progress. But I get it- ditching something so deeply ingrained into our daily routines is difficult. Plus, if there doesn't seem to be good enough reason to go to the trouble, namely if removing such activities doesn't seem all that connected to building a Twitch channel, then it's easy to find yourself glazing over these steps altogether. In this entry I'll show you exactly how distractions can prevent you from starting a new channel, stifle progress on an existing one, and sometimes stop you from streaming altogether. In short, I'll prove to you why you should be paying more attention to what distracts you, and work harder to remove those things from your path.


Now, how does a distraction really damage your ability to stream on Twitch? The obvious answer would be that ten minutes where you aimlessly scroll through Instagram while working on stream graphics is ten minutes you could have spent making graphics for your stream. Two minutes reading and responding to a Twitter thread is two minutes you could have spent engaging with your Discord. Thirty seconds spent responding to a text could have been spent... I don't know, downloading game updates or something? On their own, these incidents would seem to be so trivial in scope compared to your larger day as to not merit thinking about them all. I mean come on, adding an extra thirty seconds to your stream is sort of a drop in the bucket in the scheme of things, right? 

Kaz, I'm already distracted.
But what if I told you that each individual distraction is taking more time away from your life goals than it seems? According to a study from the University of California-Irvine, it takes over 23 minutes to return to full focus after being distracted by any activity. Let me say that again: TWENTY THREE... MINUTES. That means that pausing your work for 30 seconds to check Twitter isn't actually taking 30 seconds, but robs you of almost half an hour of operating at your full potential. And because the average person can't go 23 full minutes without being distracted again (in fact, according to another study, the median is about 40 seconds) that means that habit of checking Twitter, or chiming into the group chat, or scrolling Instagram for a few seconds here and there, is actually preventing you from ever putting your full effort into building your dream. For many, this phantom time sink blocks them from starting their channels in the first place, and it causes others to slip from their streaming habits until those habits are no more. Ask yourself, which of your idle activities and check-ins are worth more to you than your streaming dream? 


Despite the empirical research data, this 23-minute figure might seem farfetched when you look at it on the surface. But there's one example I think we've all experienced which exemplifies this phenomenon very well. Imagine you're reading a book while sitting in a room with a friend of yours, who is also reading a book. That friend looks up from their book in order to tell you a joke, and you laugh. Now you go back to reading your book. But upon looking back at your book, you probably can't get right back into your former groove of reading. You may have been blazing through pages before, but now you're stumbling over words or paragraphs, having to go back and read them again, or simply reading slower. It takes time to actually get back into that pure flow once your attention has been severed from your task. This is the same with anything you try to do, including working on your Twitch channel.

Sully, let me read this map!
What's even more interesting is that the threat of distraction can be a distraction in itself. Think back to that same example of the friend telling a joke while you're reading. Now imagine that this friend is one of those people who simply can't sit quietly for long stretches, and they've looked up from their book to tell ten more jokes while you've been sitting there, despite you asking them not to. At this point, it's not only the distractions which cause you to lose your focus, but also the pure possibility that you might be distracted again. Some of your concentration while reading actually gets partitioned off toward thinking about them making the next joke, and trying to keep an eye out for them peeking their head out over their own book so you can stop them. The moral of the story? You probably shouldn't read books in the same room as that friend. And just like that friend who might distract you at any time, your phone is sitting nearby, constantly threatening to take you away from the passion project you're trying to build. Don't let it. Disable notifications for all but the most important things, or simply leave your phone on silent more often. Your ability to look at someone's Facebook comment within 30 seconds of them tagging you won't likely change your life for the better, but it could be changing your Twitch career for the worse.


There are all sorts of other things you can do to prevent distractions from reaching you. Silencing the phone is one, sticking to a schedule is another, sometimes it's as simple as locking your door or communicating boundaries with your roommates. In plenty of previous entries I've spoken about how to go about attacking your distraction problem. The entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming focused on combating the mental enemy that tries to get you to perform low-value tasks rather than build your dream. In The Cost of Doing Nothing I talked more about how small things can topple your large ambitions. And then in How to Easily Free Up Time for Twitch, I laid out actionable steps to remove these distractions which suck your creative lifeblood every day. If you can't tell, this subject is very important to me. It's hard to identify a problem when you're looking at it from the inside, but as someone who has put these steps into action I can say definitively that cutting down on distractions has improved my Twitch streaming immensely. 

A passion is the easiest thing to get distracted from, after all. Because it's what you love, your brain doesn't want it to feel like 'work,' and that means you're likely to treat it with the least discipline of any project you're a part of. Don't let your dream slip away. Take charge of your habits and stop these distractions from hurting your Twitch channel before it's too late.

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