Protect Your Attention.
That’s been my mantra for 2017.
It’s something I got from an interview Jason Fried did with lifehacker. In it he described the following as his life hack (emphasis my own):
“Saying no. Techniques and hacks are all about managing what happens when you say yes to too many things. All the techniques and hacks in the world never add up to the power of no. Having fewer things to do is the best way to get things done. I’m very careful with my time and attention—it’s my most precious resource. If you don’t have that, you can’t do what you want to do. And if you can’t do what you want to do, what’s the point?”
The way I’ve implemented this advice is making a conscious effort daily to say “no” to
- Getting Things Done®. This used to be my jam but I realized I was just hoarding lists. It got to the point where I would open Omnifocus and not get anything done because I was overwhelmed by all the things I had to do.
- launching a new site. I had a new site queued to launch with the intention of making more book sales. Decided to scrap the entire project.
- staying in the bootstrapping echo chamber. I love the idea of bootstrapping but it isn’t the one and only answer to creating a business.
- trying to do work on “off” days. Things happen. Kids get sick and emergencies come up. I’d rather call it a day and give my loved ones my fullest attention rather than try to squeeze billable work in.
- starting bigger tasks after 4pm. Too often have I tried to start something at the end of my work day resulting me being in the middle of something when the kids got home. This often triggered a frustration filled evening.
- yak shaving. It’s nice to fix all the things but the reason a lot of my clients hire me is because I get things done efficiently.
- all the weekend activities. When you have kids there always seems to be a birthday party to go to. Plus you have family and social gatherings. This has led to a lot of anxiety filled weekends of rushing back and forth. We try to keep it to a maximum one activity per day. The weekend is for us to recharge and recuperate for the week.
- continuing open ended discussions in slack or email. As much as I love to socialize it really helps to know when you should and should not engage further into a conversation.
- working for two clients in one day. I’m just not built to multi-task like that.
- email, reddit, facebook, twitter, etc. I’d start my days with these sites and next thing I’d know it was time for lunch. This made me realize these sites served as a mechanism for avoiding work.
- meetings. Too often have I found myself multi-tasking during a drawn out meeting. If I’m not paying attention to the meeting then what’s the point? This is why I’ve canceled my weekly meetings with my Virtual Assistant and Writer/Editor. Plus I’ve taken a break from my weekly Master Mind.
And I’ve got to say my life has had way less anxiety than it did before.
I start off the day knowing the three to four things I want to get done. Anything unrelated I say “no” to.
Then I go and execute my best work because it has my full attention.
What about you? How do you go about protecting your attention? What are some things you’re saying “no” to?