This fall has been a pretty wild ride. 25 live events with clients in industries as diverse as the nuclear energy sector to hardware store owners to Big 4 accounting firms and everyone in between. It's been an incredibly rewarding experience but also incredibly taxing. As many of you know, the road has a way of beating you down one delayed flight at a time. Over the past two months I've had more than my fair share. Not to mention Ebola fearing seat-mates.
Lucky for me in early September I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Annie Perrin from The Energy Project. If you're not familiar with Annie and Tony Shwartz from The Energy Project, I would highly recommend checking them out. In their own words, "We offer a new paradigm. By intentionally investing in meeting employees' core energy needs, organizations can fuel sustainable high performance."
In short, the demands on all of us today are increasing while our energy to meet those demands are flat-lined or worse decreasing. Bottom-line, It's not sustainable. They have solutions to help turn this around.
The strategies that Annie and the team at The Energy Project talked about really hit home for me as one of the areas that I’ve personally struggled with is the impact of digital distractions.
I know I check Facebook and Twitter WAY TOO MUCH. I’m guilty of having my email tab open all day long – clicking on every ping and bing that pops up. It’s crazy.
I'm like the mouse in the experiment that keeps coming back to the trap door all day long to see if there’s another pellet! OMG I got another LIKE! I’m yelling at my wife like, “BABE I got 30 likes on that brilliant post!”
You know what I’m talking about. We post to Facebook once but then go back 15 times to see how many people have commented on it!
But it’s not just Facebook, it’s email, it’s text messages, it’s the 20 other social media sites and apps we have open. They pull us in a million directions.
And the truth is if we’re not intentional about protecting our mental space, we can spend our entire day bouncing from one thing to the next depleting our energy as we try to regain focus.
It’s definitely been a struggle for me at times and I know it’s gotten in the way of some of the intentions I've set for myself.
Let me give you a specific example.
For the past two years I've worked hard to make space in my life for meditation. I can honestly say that the best ideas for my business have bubbled up from the quit space created during this time. It's literally been the fuel for my work.
The catch is, in order for me to make space in my life for this practice I have to wake up a 30 minutes earlier.
No big deal right? Well here's how it plays out...
I reach over and turn my alarm off on my phone and what’s the first thing I do?
“Oh I’ll just check email real quick and make sure there’s no pressing fires before I meditate!”
What happens? BAM!!!! I’m back in the maze. 20 minutes later I'm still scrolling my newsfeed hoping for one more funny video or great article and I've blown my space to meditate.
How many of you can relate? I'd be willing to bet the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is check your phone. The last thing you look at before you go to bed? – Yeah we all do it.
And it’s not that it’s right or wrong it’s just about whether or not it’s supporting the intentions we're putting in place. For me, my morning ritual intention was being disrupted.
For you digital distraction might be holding you back from producing better work, closing more deals, being present with your family or significant other. Whatever it is, it's not supporting the intentions you've set for yourself.
So what do we do?
The key for me to start my day off right and limit those digital distraction was not to focus on turning off every social channel all day. That's not realistic for me. However one small thing I could do to ensure I started my morning off right was to simply put my phone in another room and not use at as my alarm.
You see I found that 100% of the time when I got up in the morning and went straight to the chair there was a 100% chance I would go through my gratitude mediation. And guess what, that set the rest of my day up.
The trick is to figure out the one thing we can do first that will require the least amount of energy but have the greatest result in terms of getting us to do what we ultimately say we want to do in our lives.
If you've felt the drain of digital distractions in your work maybe you can start small by building 30 minutes of focused attention. Close down those excess windows. Don't have your email open. Put your phone on silent. Actually put it OUT OF SIGHT! Lock in for one hour.
I guarantee you'll feel a sense of anxiety at first. The fear of missing something important will creep up but I promise if you stick with it, the feeling will pass. Lock in and you just might end up producing some of your best work yet.