Kill the Compulsive Phone-Grab: Regaining Control & Clarity

4 04 2014

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Just read this article by Greg McKeown, a business writer, consultant and researcher specialising in leadership, strategy and social behaviour. Greg is the author of the newly published book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, available here on Amazon: http://goo.gl/JKLel9.

As a busy and connected “Gen Y” professional, I am one of the worst when it comes to following the urge to check that smartphone every time it buzzes or beeps. A new email? What if it’s important??

While I don’t think realistically I will ever be one to keep a journal every day, this article put some things in perspective for me. It’s a good reminder of the importance of setting your own priorities and your own pace. In a world overflowing with (mostly trivial) information, demands and things to do, too often we try to attendtoeverythingatonce, and we end up getting nothing done well.

ImageA habit I am developing slowly is to spend 20 minutes every morning in my favourite café, take out a notebook and plan what I want to get done for the day. Amazing how when you set the framework of your day before you enter the office, it is that much easier to stick to the plan and avoid reacting to everything that comes across your desk (or screen). As someone once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Step back, give yourself the time to think. The more PROactive and less REactive we are, the more we are in control of our days and lives. And that, I find, is one of the single largest factors in personal satisfaction and happiness.

Enjoy the article.

Quinton

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One Thing Productive People Do Before Reaching for their Phones

Greg McKeown

In a recent study reported in TIME magazine, people check their phone on average 110 times a day. Some people checked it as much as 900 times a day; that’s once every minute of every waking hour of the day. Given those extremes, I don’t believe it makes me a Luddite to suggest it may be more productive – and certainly more Essentialist – to reach for a pocket notebook or journal before your phone. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Checking your phone forces you to be reactive than pro-active; it creates pressure to respond to texts and emails when other people want you to, rather than when it’s convenient for you. Writing in your notebook puts you back in control of your communication; it gives you the chance to craft your reply instead of shooting it off reactively, and respond on your schedule, not someone else’s.
  2. Checking your phone fills you with that frenetic, compulsive feeling that you might be missing out. Writing in your notebook has a calming influence.
  3. Checking your phone tricks you with the trivial; it fools you into thinking that news and updates from the virtual world are more important than what’s right in from of you in the actual world right now. Writing in your notebook reminds you of what’s important right now.
  4. Checking your phone fills every spare moment with noise. Writing in your notebook provides you time to think and reflect.

Of course, the benefits of writing in a notebook or journal go beyond the realm of productivity. One of my grandfathers died a few years ago. Upon going through his things, I was struck by what I found, or rather what I didn’t find: not a single journal or notebook or any kind of written record about the life he had lived. Contrast this with my other Grandfather in England who wrote a single line in his journal every couple of days for some fifty years.

What I am saying is that if we want to leave a legacy to those who come after us one powerful way to do it is to write a journal. David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian has said if you want to become the voice of your generation, write a journal entry every day and then gift it to your local university library at the end of your life. Voice of your generation or not, I believe that a journal is one of the most precious gifts you can give to those you leave behind.

If journaling sounds too daunting a task for you, I suggest the following simple way to get started:

Write One Sentence Every Day. If you want to create this new Essentialist habit, use this counter- intuitive yet effective method: write less than you feel like writing. Typically, when people start to keep a journal they write pages the first day. Then by the second day the prospect of writing so much is daunting, and they procrastinate or abandon the exercise. So instead, even if you feel like writing more, force yourself to write no more than one sentence a day. Apply the disciplined pursuit of “less but better” to your journal.

In an article called, “If You Don’t Design Your Career, Someone Else Will” I suggest a step by step process for making sure you are using your life for what really matters. When you have a year’s worth of journal entries to look back on, it will broaden your perspective and greatly enhance your ability to more clearly see the difference between the many things in your life that are mere distractions and the few things that are truly vital.

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Lance Armstrong: thoughts of a champion

15 05 2009

Live Strong!Fantastic article I found on Dumb Little Man. Enjoy! I’m off the annual Insight Insurance Brokers conference in the stunning Hunter Valley – leaving now and won’t be back till Sunday evening. So till then – have a great weekend!

– Quinton

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Lance Armstrong is one of those remarkable humans that has a story strong enough to inspire others to take action. He is the type of person whose struggles make your common complaints appear minimal in comparison. If you haven’t heard Lance’s story, then you’ve seriously missed learning from one of the most dedicated and heroic figures of modern times.

Allow me to give you a quick update. In 1996, Lance was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was found to have tumors on both his brain and his lungs. After successful surgery, Lance didn’t just waddle through life and get to live a lifestyle similar to the healthiest of us, definitely not…he topped that by a long shot.

Since his surgery in 1996, he has gone on to:

Become a professional road racing cyclist

Win the Tour de France 7 times, breaking a record of 5 by Miguel Indurain and others

Not only did he win it, but he won it consecutively from 1999-2005

Named Worldwide sports athlete of the year in 1999

He won ESPN’s Best Male Athlete award 4 years in a row

…and so much more.
To be fair, if I continued the bullet-points they could really go on forever. Not only is the Tour de France one of the most grueling race courses in the world, but being able to win it 7 years in a row and after life saving surgery is nothing short of miraculous.

But as you are about to find out, Lance doesn’t believe in miracles. I have been so inspired by Lance’s dedication that I thought his lessons would be great advice to anyone looking to get the most out of life. Whether young or old, I think anyone can benefit from his outlook…

Know that Pain is Temporary
Sometimes, to get what we want out of life we really have to work for it; we have to battle through the hard times. I’m sure all of you reading this can relate to a time in your life where you had to literally push yourself to keep going.

However, you must also realize that pain is temporary so unless you have set impossible goals, your struggles and efforts won’t last forever. The results will come to you.

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

Realize you Have Two Choices
Whether it’s seeing the positive in things versus the negative or deciding to go for something or not, there are a lot of great possibilities in life on the other side of two choices. For Lance, those two choices he decided to focus on were a great testament to his mindset: you either give up or you die trying.

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”

Go for What You Want Now, Before it’s Too Late
We really never know what is around the corner. Our partner could become pregnant, there could be a family emergency where we need to lend funds, or we may even be in a critical health situation that physically stops us from completing our goals. We often wait till it is too late in life before we go for the things we want. We save money for our pensions and decide we are going to live then; the downside to that of course being that we are in our worst physical shape.

“Without the illness I would never have been forced to re-evaluate my life and my career. I know if I had not had cancer, I would not have won the Tour de France.”

Don’t focus on Potential Failures
One of the things that really gets me down in life is the people that manage to talk themselves out of brilliant ideas and situations before they’ve even tried them out – before they’ve even given things a shot. Sure, you could fail at whatever you would like to accomplish; you could fail miserably. On the other side of the coin, you could also burn your hand on the toaster tomorrow morning but you’re still going to put the bread in the machine.

Don’t look for reasons not to do something, look for everything that is going to help you succeed in doing it.

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”

Put Everything into your Goals
In my opinion, half-hearted efforts are going to get half-hearted results. If you don’t put the time or effort into something, you aren’t going to get your desired outcome. Whatever it is that you want, literally immerse yourself in the life of having it. Study the subject, set practical hours to work on your goals and actually stick to your plan.

If you do feel like giving up, just appreciate that other people going for the same thing are feeling that as well, and while they might let those feelings take over them, you won’t.

I figure the faster I pedal, the faster I can retire.

Lance is one of those people I’ve admired since hearing his story and watching the dedication he puts into training, day in and day out. To me, he is the epitome of success where hard work generates results.