So, let's talk about addictions and distractions. And no, I'm not just talking about the obvious ones like cigarettes and junk food (although we all know those are bad for us). I'm talking about those sneaky little habits that we don't even realize we have. You know, the ones that seem harmless but somehow manage to suck away hours of our day.
I recently made the switch from to playing my founder hat more and my coach hat less. And let me tell you, figuring out what the heck my job even was took up a lot of my time. And don't even get me started on the never-ending vortex that is my email inbox.
To get my act together, I started looking into different frameworks for improving my productivity. My favourite? The Eisenhower Matrix. It's a powerful framework that tells you how to prioritise. Are you focusing on tasks that are urgent and important only? Are you forever postponing Important tasks? Are you not delegating less important tasks?
Combined with some time logging - literally logging what I was doing in 15 minute chunks - I was able to see obvious gaps. Lo and behold, I was leaking time like a sieve! So, I tried to be productive and plug those leaks, but it left me feeling drained and annoyed.
And don't even get me started on my productivity techniques - they seemed to only make matters worse. I was spending all my time on urgent and important tasks, but did they need to be done? It took me months to even question that!
Thank goodness for Oliver Burkeman and his amazing book. It was like he reached into my brain and put words to all the things I couldn't quite articulate. I felt so grateful and relieved! He talks about how there will always be too much to do, but somehow that's actually liberating. You don't have to beat yourself up for not doing it all - that's not possible. Instead, make a shift from trying not to neglect anything to proactively tackling what matters. How's that for a productivity hack?
So, I had to let go of my obsession with being a productivity guru and started looking at things a bit differently. I mean, why waste time on leakages when they don't add anything to your life, right?
My "trivial" time sinks
Let me give you some juicy details about the addictions and distractions I'm talking about:
First up, we have Reddit - the OG of internet time-wasting. I used to spend hours on this bad boy. And don't even get me started on all those other sites that used to suck my time away when I was living it up in Silicon Valley.
Then there's football - I mean, how many times can you check the scores on different sites in a day? I've got it down to a science now, with five sites to choose from, each one reserved for a specific time of day. I know, I know - I'm a genius.
Last but not least, we have the default news on my phone browser. I mean, I thought I had eradicated reading news. But thanks to the sneaky design of technology, I found myself casually scrolling through Google News on my phone browser.
So get this, without even realising (thanks to my trusty time log), I was wasting a few precious minutes every few hours on some total non-work stuff. And let me tell ya, emails are the worst culprits of all. They make you feel productive but in reality, they're a shitty piece of fuckery. But wait, there's more! There are other time suckers too, but I won't bore you with the details. Altogether, they add up to about 30 minutes of my day. That doesn't sound like much, right?! Wrong.
The bigger cost
But do you know what the real problem is? The fact that I'm always running away from discomfort and seeking distractions. The break in thought and flow! Getting back into the swing of things will take a few minutes. And the next time I am stuck, the odds of me running away to a distraction are a tad higher. And some days, I don't get any work done at all.
So instead of trying to plug those gaps with more work, I've decided to instead sit.
That way, I can focus on what matters and make the most of my time.
There are gonna be more tasks on my to-do list than I can shake a stick at. But here's the kicker, I'm not trying to replace those pesky distractions with "productive tasks." Nah, I'm trying to sit with the discomfort and not get sidetracked.
But don't get me wrong, I still need my distractions. I mean, have you seen the news lately? It's like a never-ending cycle of doom and gloom. So, instead of subjecting myself to that, I've broadened my horizons. I'm talking cute puppy stuff on /r/aww, people!
And when I need a break from my break, I'll do a quick breathing exercise or stretch it out. Not all the time, mind you, but enough to keep me focused and not annoyed when I do get sidetracked.
So, take it from me, use your distractions wisely and you'll be cranking out top-notch work in no time.
It starts with awareness. So, what are those pesky addictions and distractions that pull you away from being your best self?