The focus manifesto

Do you ever feel like you’re rushing from one thing to the next, without really doing any one thing properly? Are you running from one social appointment to the next without taking the time and attention to enjoy each one? Is your desk like a constant fireworks show of new emails, instant messages, phone calls, sms notifications, flashing lights and pinging noises, all begging for your attention?

This is sadly all very, very familiar to me.

I just finished reading Leo Babauta’s Focus Manifesto. It’s all about “finding simplicity in the age of distraction”, which screamed out to me straight away. His basic premise is that distractions and noise are killing your creativity and limiting your potential. He argues that the best way to get more done is to do less. Leo talks about being constantly connected to the cloud as an addiction, one that must be treated just like any conventional addiction.

I think I’m often trying to go too fast, without taking the time to really take in what I am doing. This goes for both my work and personal life.

At work, I have a ton of different projects on at once, people coming to me all through the day needing questions answered, issues resolved, priorities decided, and a constant stream of emails, meeting requests, instant messages and phone calls. I quite often leave the office at the end of the day and I’m disappointed and frustrated that I haven’t gotten enough done, even though I know I was working at 110% the whole day. Now I realise that I’m not usually frustrated because I haven’t gotten enough done, but rather because I’ve not gotten the right things done. I can quite easily spend an entire day poring over emails, answering IMs, and sitting in meetings. In fact, there are so many emails that I feel like I’m moving at a hundred miles an hour just to read them all, let alone reply. And at the end of the day, I’ve written and read a lot of emails, but the important stuff hasn’t been looked at. The good stuff… and, you know what, it’s the fun stuff too! But it doesn’t get done, because it’s too easy to get trapped in the distraction trap.

Leo’s focus manifesto has a ton of practical suggestions on how to clear your mind and your desk (figuratively and literally) and focus on the right things. The things you want to be doing – the things that make you happy and satisfied. He also talks about solitude and time for reflection as being super important for recharging your creative batteries.

And best of all – Leo’s book is free!

Starting tomorrow, for example, I’m clearing off all the crap off my desk to create a bit of clean space – and then I’ll be on to my calendar with an axe…

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