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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Technology – Communication or Connection?

28 06 2010

There are tens of thousands of businesses making many millions a year in profits that still haven’t ever heard of twitter, blogs or Facebook. Are they all wrong? Have they missed out or is the joke really on us?

They do business through personal relationships, by delivering great customer service and it’s working for them. They’re more successful than most of those businesses who spend hours pontificating about how others lose out by missing social media and the latest wave. And yet they’re doing business. Great business. Not writing about it. Doing it.

I’m continually amazed by the number of people on Twitter and on blogs, and the growth of people (and brands) on Facebook. But I’m also amazed by how so many of us are spending our time. The echo chamber we’re building is getting larger and louder. More megaphones don’t equal a better dialogue.

We’ve become slaves to our mobile devices and the glow of our screens. It used to be much more simple and, somewhere, simple turned into slow. We walk the streets with our heads down staring into 3-inch screens while the world whisks by doing the same. And yet, we’re convinced we are more connected to each other than ever before.

Multi-tasking has become a badge of honour.

I want to know why.

I don’t have all the answers to these questions but I find myself thinking about them more and more. In between tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates.

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– Howard Mann – speaker, entrepreneur and author of Your Business Brickyard.