I’m feeling a lot of anxiety lately. It’s a healthy response to the current political chaos. Our country’s a mess and we have a lot of hard work ahead.
But underneath this anxiety is another level of uneasiness that concerns me a lot more. I’ve become so distracted that I’m not getting my work done.
This is a different kind of anxiety. It’s self-inflicted, has major consequences, and feels mighty shameful. It sucks.
I’m hyperconscious of this type of anxiety because it’s very familiar to me. As a former procrastinator I am well-versed in excuses, late nights, and apologies.
But over the last few years I’ve developed new habits that have made a world of difference in the quantity and quality of my work.
First, I stopped checking my email in the morning. An email inbox has the power to dictate the tone of your day. Don’t hand that power to a passive aggressive client that makes your blood boil. It can wait.
Resist the Internet!
I then began protecting one-hour of interruption-free time to immerse myself in one specific task.
No email. No social media. No Internet browsing.
At first, it was difficult. I desperately wanted to check my email or Google something—often and obsessively. But over time it got easier. My ability to concentrate improved. I increased the Internet-free time to two hours. Guess what?
I started getting some serious work done!
I also began enjoying my work again. I felt reconnected to my purpose and significantly less stressed.
Just by taking a break from online activity for two hours a day.
Don’t get me wrong—I love the Internet. It is an immensely powerful and transformative tool. But nonstop access is hurting our ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. And it is within this time that we do our best work.
In Deep Work, Cal Newman laments that we are increasingly replacing, “deep work with the shallow alternative—constantly sending and receiving email messages like human network routers, with frequent breaks for quick hits of distraction. Larger efforts that would be well served by deep thinking, such as forming a new business strategy or writing an important grant application, get fragmented into distracted dashes that produce muted quality.”
Does that hit a nerve?
It’s also a shame because, getting s*%t done feels great.
Do you have a project that you care about deeply? Registration for Marketing Mastermind: Spring 2017 will open to 6 new participants on Monday. You can check it out here.
Like it or not, time is finite. If we want to become the people we intend to be, make a difference, and produce the work we know we’re capable of, we’ve got to get focused. Now.
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”
You rock. Let it be known.