Look, there goes a shiny object …
…Stop it, stay focused Mark!
Beginning today, I’m re-committing to Focus. I hope you’ll join me if you’re not already there because it is absolutely amazing what you can achieve when you are focused in any facet of life.
Since I am quite often asked how I can get so much done, you might be thinking that I’m good at this, but (like many people) it’s a big challenge for me – I too suffer from shiny object syndrome. Focus requires constant vigilance. (Can you imagine how difficult it’s going to be when our future generations raised around instant messaging, tweeting, and constant distraction get out here in the working world with us?)
I’ve included several specific thoughts and ideas below on what I’ll be doing (many of which are continuations of strategies that I already have in place) . I hope some of them will be helpful to you.
My Focus Commitments and Affirmations…
Email… I will not check email first thing in the morning (there’s nothing worse than starting my day working on someone else’s agenda), I will keep email alerts turned off, I will check email only twice a day (9:00am and 2:00pm), and I will not receive email on my smart phone (I got rid of the Blackberry over a year ago & I didn’t enable the email feature on my droid now). When I think that’s impossible because people need to reach me because I’m so very important, I’ll remember that I’m not as important as I think I am.
Instant messaging… I will not use it as a conversation tool. This would be like allowing someone to jump up on my desk anytime they want and interrupt my workflow (and I certainly don’t want to do that to anyone else). After all, I’m a grown-up. It’s only to be used for quick, logistical notes like “I’m on my way” or “C U in 5 mins.”
Web… I will not use the web personally during my money hours (mine are between 8 am and 6 pm each work day with a break for lunch sometimes). When this gets tough because of my shiny object syndrome, I’ll remind myself again that I’m a grown-up.
Phone… I will not give my attention to my phone when people I know are around me. If it vibrates when I’m in a face:face conversation, I will ignore it and give it attention when I’m alone.
Television… I will not channel surf. If I want to watch something, I will watch that thing and that’s it. If I need downtime, I’ll read a book, magazine, or something on the web (being careful here too, of course).
Commitment: When things get tough, I’ll remind myself that I want to succeed professionally, financially, and personally. And, if I do these things, I’ll likely contribute more, make more useful things happen, earn more, and enjoy more as a result. (It’s a better bet.) When I make a mistake (check my email, look at the web, etc.), I’ll stop, re-commit, and remind myself that I want to make good things happen (rather than living in a state of busy distraction).
These are for me and my workflow. If your work really requires more attention to email or a phone, then adjust accordingly. As you make these commitments, be sure to let people know so they understand you’ll be responding to them, just at a different interval than you did before. Let them know that if they need you urgently, they should call you – yes, even most smart phones actually still have a “calling” feature! If they don’t like that idea, remind them that you still love them and they’re important to you but you are trying to make good things happen and that requires hard work and focus. Maybe they’ll be inspired and join you in your commitment to focus and we’ll all win.
One last thing…
If I missed you with this, here’s Louis CK (http://goo.gl/I2FYW) on Conan reminding us to pay attention to the life in front of us. It’s a hilarious couple of minutes. He cusses a couple of times so if that bothers you, you’ll want to skip it.
(NOTE: I was inspired to write this post based on an email I received from Sam Parker at GiveMore.com – I recommend checking out his blog at http://blog.givemore.com/)