Sep 09, 2021
Full disclosure – I am writing this blog as much for myself as I am for other people.
There is no question that we live in a perpetually distracted society.
Guys… it’s bad. And I readily admit that I too have fallen prey to this.
For the majority of the world, we have now reached a point where we can scarcely go 5 minutes without checking our phones, email, social media, team chat, or some game on our phones.
Deep, engaged, undistracted work is almost a foreign concept.
And because we allow ourselves to be perpetually distracted, it’s no wonder why we all feel so lethargic, unmotivated, depressed, unhappy, and unfulfilled – because we’re not living up to our potential.
I will tell you straight up that it is impossible to become the best version of yourself if you are constantly distracted.
And when we fall so far short of what we know we are actually capable of, the natural byproduct of that are things like depression and unfulfillment.
No matter how much technology has promised to make our lives easier, more efficient, and more convenient – the fact is, as evidenced by articles like this one, our minds have not evolved to the ability to multitask remarkably well.
Studies have shown time and again that when we are able to focus on one thing at a time, we will be more productive, get more done, and be less stressed overall.
In today’s world – you can give yourself a HUGE edge over almost everybody, simply by being able to work without distractions.
The key to removing distractions starts by identifying the reasons WHY we distract ourselves (also known as procrastination).
Why do we tend to check social media, or play games on our phones, or watch videos on YouTube for hours, instead of doing work? I think generally, there are two main reasons:
The task(s) ahead of us are perceived as overwhelmingly arduous or unpleasant We lack passion for our work
Let’s address these individually.
If you are avoiding a task because it seems difficult or overwhelming, this is simple enough to overcome. You simply take the task and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. As the parable says – if you had to eat an elephant, you’d do it one bite at a time, not all at once.
For me, I have now gotten to the point where I don’t even bother adding “big” tasks to my to-do list. I only add small little tasks that contribute to the end-goal, so that nothing feels overwhelming on my list.
I have gotten very attuned to how I feel about the items on my to-do list. If I am adding something to it, and find myself feeling a sense of “dread” about it… I immediately delete it from my list, and replace it with 2 or 3 smaller, more manageable tasks.
Try it. It works.
Now – if we lack passion for the job at hand, this is a bit more difficult a problem to solve. Most of us are not really in a position where we can just up and quit, simply because we don’t feel like doing whatever it is that needs doing.
This is where cold, hard discipline comes into play. And make no mistake – if finding passion for something is difficult, building discipline is even harder.
In times like these – I will often incentivize myself with some kind of reward for completing the task. Or at the very least, I will try to find ways to make the task more enjoyable.
If I am dreading a workout – I will seek ways to make it seem less dreadful. I will find a new podcast to listen to, or create a new playlist to help give me some energy.
If I am dreading a task for work – I will reward myself with a break, or a small purchase, or something like that.
Ultimately – just giving yourself a reward to get through the yuck is one of the best ways to overcome dreadful tasks.
And let’s not discount how good you will feel having it behind you, instead of looming over you.
Now… with all of that being said – I genuinely believe that we are not put on this earth to spend our lives doing something we hate, day in and day out.
Of course, there are going to be things that arise every now and again that we have to do, despite not wanting to.
But to willingly subject yourself to a life where you are wishing away 80% of your week, only to enjoy your Saturday, and feel a sense of dread all day Sunday for the upcoming Monday… you were meant for more than that.
The final thing I want to say about this is to simply remind you of how amazing it feels to crawl into bed at night reflecting on all that you were able to get done that day. I know for me personally, I get my best sleep after the days when I am most productive. I feel most proud and confident on those days, because I know that I put the work in.
And that is the ultimate message I am trying to convey here. It is impossible for us to feel confident and proud of ourselves, when we know that we haven’t done the work.
Society will try to tell us that we are enough. That we can sit around, exist, and simply consume resources – and that is enough. Don’t buy into this lie. You CANNOT… I repeat, CANNOT feel your very best, if you know, somewhere in your head, that you were capable of more. You cannot be confident, if you know you haven’t put the work in. And you cannot be truly fulfilled, if you never do difficult things.
Distractions prevent us from that. Distractions are literally preventing you from feeling accomplished, self-assured, and HAPPY. They are a cancer, and need to be cut out of our lives, mercilessly. Because when we do, I firmly believe we will be happier, healthier, and insanely more productive.