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Feeling Busy and Distracted? It's Not Your Fault

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https://maketime.blog/article/feeling-busy-and-distracted-its-not-your-fault/

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Feeling Busy and Distracted? It's Not Your Fault
But you are the only one who can fix it All illustrations by Jake Knapp from our book Make Time You've got a new email from your boss, plus a dozen old ones that still require a response... Your frie...

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Feeling busy

We live in a distracting world, and it’s not getting any better. We are constantly bombarded with new information.

It's natural to think we need more discipline or willpower to resist the ons...

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Acceptance of distracting technology

Technology companies work hard to create products that bring convenience and delight. In turn, they benefit when we use these technologies more.

Our willing acceptance of distracting ap...

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Remove distracting apps

The smartphone is the simplest and most effective way to reclaim your time and attention.

In contrast to hacks like disabling notifications, removing apps cuts the distraction where it starts...

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Log out and change passwords

You might find your computer's web browser just as hard to resist.

Create a barrier to distraction. For example:

  • Change your passwords for your top distractions.
  • ...

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Proactive with your time

We should think proactively about what we're making time for.

Choose a highlight for your day. Maybe it's an activity that brings you joy, like a long walk or cooking a meal. Perhaps i...

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Default choices

Default choices

90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.

To make smarter choices, design smarter...

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.

Richard Thaler

Richard Thaler

“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 

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Cluttered digital lives

Cluttered digital lives

If people's physical lives were anywhere near as cluttered as their digital lives, their kitchen sinks would be full of dishes, their closets would be jammed, and their houses would be in chaos.

Become a Digital Minimalist

We can reclaim our time and our attention. Unlike a physical space, we can wipe the slate clean in our digital environment.

If you clear apps from your phone, nothing will happen. You can always reinstall the ones you use.

Digital Declutter

  • Clear your browser history.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters, podcasts, blogs, and anything else you consume.
  • Delete all the apps that are currently on your phone and desktop or laptop (as long as you don’t have to buy a new version of anything).

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How Friction Can Help You

In tech, friction refers to the steps a customer needs to take to perform a certain action. Too many steps and your funnel starts to leak.

For you, on the other hand, the harder it is...

To Quit Bad Habits

  • Grab a piece of paper and write down all the habits that you think are unhealthy and want to get rid of. Once you have finished, rank them in order. Now start with number #1. Forget the rest for now.
  • Add layers of “friction” to your vices to make it harder for yourself to keep doing them. Keep adding layers of friction of time, money, or both.

Quitting Social Media

  • Remove all social media apps from your phone
  • Change your passwords to something impossible to remember. Save them in a document/cloud
  • Log out after each session.
  • The radical option: Delete your accounts.

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Default behaviors

They are actions we make without thinking (habits, routines, compulsions). They control more than 40% of our daily actions.

So if we want to change our lives and be more productive, we...

Inbox always open

This behavior keeps you from dedicating your time to meaningful work. Replying to email may feel productive, but the truth is emails are rarely the most important thing on your to-do list.

So instead of keeping your inbox open all day, change your default behavior to working on emails in batches.

Immediately responding to messages

Real-time communication sets the expectation that you’re always available. And for many of us, our default behaviors support just that.

In order to change this behavior, you need to set expectations on response time. Mute specific channels, get rid of pop-ups, turn off mobile notifications, etc.

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Email can wait

Unless your job demands otherwise, deal with email at the end of the day.

Less energy at the end of the day makes you less tempted to overcommit to incoming requests.

Schedule ‘email time’

With this strategy, you won’t waste time checking emails constantly throughout the day. 

Instead, you’ll establish an end-of-day email routine. Research found that people who check their emails three times a day respond to the same amount of emails 20 percent faster than those who constantly respond to messages as they came in.

Inbox zero can work

... if you’re just receiving several emails a day. Otherwise, strive to empty your inbox out once a week.

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Benefits of workplace collaboration

Employees can share resources, swap perspectives, and boost each other’s creativity.

Collaboration allows us to capitalize on the collective knowledge and expertise of our people, whil...

Downsides of collaboration

Collaborations can be unproductive, time-wasting, and a strain on top employees.

Collaborative organizational structure can drain people’s time and resources, wherein employees are “emailed to death and meetinged to death."

For effective collaboration...

... (or delegation), it helps to know where everyone’s expertise lies. 

Make sure your employees get to know each other, whether that happens through group lunches, coffee breaks, or informal social events. This also builds trust — a vital element for successful collaboration.

Urgent ≠ Important

Time management can be tough. What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things:

  • going to the gym today isn't urgent, but it is imp...

Eliminate half-work at all costs

Examples of half-work:

  • You start writing a report but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason or to open up Facebook or Twitter.
  • You try out a new workout routine. Two days later, you read about another “new” fitness program and try a little bit of that. You make little progress in either program and so you start searching for something better.
  • Your mind wanders to your email inbox while you're on the phone with someone.

Do the most important thing first

Decisions and choices that you make throughout the day tend to drain your willpower. You're less likely to make a good decision at the end of the day than you are at the beginning.

If you do the most important thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.

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Digital minimalism

Digital minimalism

It means using technology with more intention and purpose.

It's a “philosophy of technology use” rooted in reclaiming control and intention back from the devices and platforms that hav...

Techno-maximalism

It promtes the basic idea that technological innovations can bring value and convenience into your life.

It just looks at the positives. And it's view is more is better than less, because more things that bring you benefits means more total benefits. 

Putting FOMO into perspective

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, you want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you huge rewards. 

When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

Learn To Use Procrastination

Learn To Use Procrastination

The desire to procrastinate is a healthy brain craving, a natural need for novelty and curiosity. We must stop the negative self-talk we have towards us not working as a machine all the time. The l...

Observe Your Need To Procrastinate

  1. Observe the need to procrastinate, recognizing and being aware of your desire. This is called meta-recognition and is what all the Gurus keep talking about when they speak about awareness.
  2. Label and accept your urge to waste your time, but without any negative judgement.
  3. Validate your urge to procrastinate, increasing your self-esteem.
  4. Approach procrastination as a friend, not as a threat.

The Real Enemy of Flow

The biggest obstacle, the main villain hampering our productivity is always in your hands, and rarely in your pockets. _It’s your smartphone. It needs to be powered off for some time. Your laptop, clamouring for attention, is not helping either. Remove all distractions and notifications so that you can get in the ‘flow’ mode.

Creating friction between us and the open black hole of the online distractions helps us focus on work.

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Learning from mistakes

Learning from mistakes

It doesn't happen automatically. It requires thinking and reflection. No one likes to fail, lose time and energy. That’s why we need to make an effort to learn from the things that we wish w...

Lessons learned by making mistakes

  • You can't know everything. Be humble.
  • Never blame others for your unhappiness. Take responsibility.
  • Don't waste time on losers. You might become one of them.
  • Most of us have a twisted idea about love.
  • You actually don't have a lot of time.
  • Learning never stops. 
  • Sometimes you need to distance yourself from others and be alone.
  • Small decisions lead to big outcomes.

How well you’re spending your time

Ask yourself: 

  • How much time am I wasting on things that give me zero fulfillment? 
  • Do I like my job? 
  • Do I like the people in my life?