Reza Nik Studio
an experimental architecture practice


A weekly piece reflecting on current thoughts, theories, research and sometimes creative writing.

[guided distractions]

Today was difficult to guide my distractions.

I want to break up the sentence above to further understand what it means by starting with their definitions, courtesy of Google:

Distractions [dəˈstrakSH(ə)n]
- a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else
- a diversion or recreation
- extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Guide [ɡīd]
- show or indicate the way to (someone)
- direct the motion or positioning of (something)
- direct or have an influence on the course of action of (someone or something)

I first began to think about these two concepts as I was developing my seminar course this semester and UofT, which I have titled “Guided Distractions: Abstraction & Experimentation in Architecture”. It was a term which seemed to make sense to me at the moment, and a practice which I had been taking seriously.

My distractions come in many forms. They could be but not limited to: social media (instagram, twitter, facebook, linkedIn), house chores, errands, jumping from reading different books & articles, watching different talks, documentaries or interviews, looking at inspiring work, organizing my calendar, making a to-do list, messaging & emailing friends, colleagues or students…. etc. etc.

Everything I do can be categorized as a distraction, they are all “a thing that prevents (me) from giving full attention to something else”. My distractions used to be more “distracting” (defn: preventing concentration or diverting attention; disturbing) in how they were “disturbing” my focus. And what I have been trying to do for the past few months has been to cut out distractions which I found to be distracting/disturbing and replaced them with distractions which as a whole I believe are adding positively to my growth and development and as a result my happiness.

The concept of “guiding distractions” is to be able to have enough infrastructure set up in order for my mind to navigate through these distractions while staying focused on the larger vision and goal. It’s like navigating through these distractions like the way the Tokyo transit system is set up, looks chaotic, but there’s strict order and thought which has gone into developing this complex system.

tokyo transit map.png

Well, it’s not that simple. And days like today, guiding distractions was very difficult.

I think what I’ve realized is the power of the 3rd definition of distractions as listed above:

extreme agitation of the mind or emotions

… and this seems to trump all other plans I may strategically set up to guide my distractions. I feel as though my mind and emotions were agitated today and because of this I could not follow through effectively. This is also because of the lack of sleep, I believe, which I will need to work on.

I truly believe in “guided distractions” as a concept in order to survive in our highly distracted world, and I will be experimenting more to see how I can develop it further to perhaps help others out there who may have experienced the negatives of distractions.

I will end off with this quote by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar which I had quoted in a blog post during my thesis about distractions in 2012.

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.”
Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

Reza Nik