Distraction Diet

Distraction Diet It's time to Cross the Line

by Sam Parker (author of 212, Smile & Move, Cross The Line)

I’m re-committing to Focus. I hope you’ll join me if you’re not already there.

You might be thinking I’m good at this given what I write and talk about, but (like many people) it’s a big challenge for me. (Can you imagine how difficult it’s going to be when our future generations get out here in the working world with us?)

My Distraction Diet Commitments…

Focus hours… Twice each workday, I will hold focus hours. From 10 am – 12 pm and from 2 pm – 4 pm, I will become unavailable to anything but true emergencies. My phones will be off to anything inbound (no calls, no texts… airport mode on my cell). It’s only two 2-hour blocks of time where I’m unavailable to others. When I think I can’t do it and that 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.

Email… I will turn off email alerts and check it only twice a day (11:30 and 4:30). 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. (See below for letting people know how to get to you.)

Instant messaging… I will not do it. 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.

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). When this gets tough because of my addiction to distraction, I’ll remind myself again that I’m a grown-up.

Phone… I will not give my attention to my iPhone when people I know are around me. If it vibrates (a ringtone? please) when I’m in a face-to-face conversation I will do my best to ignore it and give it attention when I’m alone. Fortunately, when I’m in an airport, I generally don’t know a lot of people so I can dig into my phone all I want there (although I might miss out on some of those serendipitous moments I’ve had in the past where I’ve met some very interesting people and learned new things… hmmmm).

Proximity… I will turn my desk facing away from my door.

Television… I will not channel/ Netflix/ YouTube surf. If I know about something I want to watch, I will watch it and that’s it. If I need downtime, I’ll read a book 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 (better relationships, better knowledge). 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 (break focus hours, check my email, look at the web, etc.), I’ll stop, re-commit, and remind myself I want to make good things happen (rather than living in a state of busy distraction and making less money). Get a Make Good Things Happen poster here.

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 or visit you. If they don’t like that idea, remind them that you love them (only slight kidding here) and they’re important to you but you are trying to make good things happen and that requires hard work and focus (Cross The Line, right?). Maybe they’ll be inspired and join you in your distraction diet and we’ll all win.

Got another idea you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it. If I think it’s something everyone would benefit from, I’ll send it out in another email. Just email me at Sparker@GiveMore.com.

One last thing…

“Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real’.”

C.S. Lewis (1942)
from The Screwtape Letters

Here’s Louis CK’s version (funny, huh?). Warning: he’s got a bit of trash mouth.

Hang in their until the end… hilarious. Speaks to the Smile side of Smile & Move (Being awake and approachable).