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October 2nd, 2019


Late nights can be strangely conducive to getting work done.  There is something quiet and contemplative about the time when most people have succumbed to slumber.


At least some of the reasons are easy to point out: there’s fewer people who are likely to bother you, what with people being asleep or making the polite assumption that you might be asleep.  There’s also fewer places open that might tempt one to venture out, and of course darkness takes the flashy color out of everything.


It’s worthy to note here that the iphone’s screen can be converted to greyscale in the settings and this has been shown to make addictive apps… less addictive.  To think about why this might be the case, just think about how flashy and colorful everything is at a casino.  Especially those slot machines.


And yet, when we try to sit down for a stint of concentrated work in the middle of the day, what do we do to make things more conducive?  We check email to make sure there’s nothing lingering we should take care of.  We go to YouTube to find the perfect music to listen to and expose ourselves to all of the algorithmically addictive selections of recommended videos.  We get a snack to make sure we won’t get hungry.


And of course we keep our phone close by… just in case.



Ironically, we do the exact opposite of what happens with nightfall.  We add potential distractions to our plate instead of understanding the allure of the meditative night.


Night time eliminates distractions. 


There are still plenty to waste time with.  Youtube for one never sleeps.  But with less overall chances to be distracted, we are more likely to have the time needed to engage in deeper work.




It’s not unusual for those with some kind of 9-5 job to say that their best and often only work really gets done in the morning.  Some people get to work early for this period.  And it makes sense as an extension of night time.  Less people around, less chance of being distracted.


But of course, the reasons why night time can be so conducive to productivity can be manufactured at any time of day.  The phone can be turned off for an hour or two.  YouTube can be consciously avoided in favor of some old faithful choice.  The door can be shut, or the location can be changed. 


Strangely enough, even fasting is a valuable tool for productivity because a firm resolution to not eat ultimately precludes the break of getting food from being a potential option that can crop up in order to break our attention.


As with most things, we are quick to state what works or doesn’t work for us.  But we’re slower or even totally inactive when it comes to knowing exactly why something works or doesn’t work. 


It’s this second perspective on our own preferences that unlocks a flexibility and agility that we can use to cater situations more to our use. 


By rearranging the situation we have, we can make things more conducive to our own ends.  Whether that be focused attention or some other aim in life.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 535: Conducive

Tinkered Thinking

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