We fill up our plate with hundreds of smalls, all the while postponing the big. Yes to the committee, yes to the extra project, read all the e newsletter subscriptions (for fear of missing important content), check the iphone constantly, last minute yeses, lots of sure I’ll do that, yes to nearly every request that comes along, yet we delay the dream. It’s a formula for mediocrity, exhaustion, cognitive dissonance, disappointing yourself and falling short on your goals or at least a delayed acquisition of said dreams. As I write this, I do this.
You can say that this is the big rock / little rock discussion, and it is. Let’s look at the actual behavior in every day terms and how we can shift.
I am a fan girl of many industry leaders, most recently Kyle Handy. He is cranking out massive quality content right now. Video, blog, live, sharp authentic timely messaging. Waiting on my 6:50am flight to Des Moines last week, I read his recent article on the eXp revenue share program. It was a timely and comprehensive review of the industry buzz, game-changing rev share opportunity that is changing agents lives. Huge content, big rock material. It struck me that I was spending so much time on yes and small, that I was not taking the time to crank out the big stuff or move forward on my next book.
I listened to Manoush Zomorodi (“Bored and Brilliant: The Art of Spacing Out”) yesterday on the Inman Connect live feed and again on my DFW layover this morning. (I said no to that Inman Connect trip to Vegas and yes to live feed in my home office for a net savings of an estimated $1800 + more family time). She spoke nothing of real estate, except that she lives in a house, and all about how our technology is killing us softly. (Queue Roberta Flack.)
We are up to our lip gloss in constantly tapping the phone, glancing at the phone to look at those little numbers, see if there are more or higher numbers than just 20 seconds ago. And we have timers and pings and screen flashes just in case we are not being attentive enough. It’s an infomania tic. The overload of information, the habitual muscle memory of that simple wrist flip swipe glance ping flash … it’s real. Research says we change our attention every 45 seconds (it used to be every 3 minutes), all day long. And not just 8-5. All. Day. Long.
So there is a price we pay for this obsessive habit.
The first price is time. Research says that every time you respond to something or interrupt your workflow, it takes 23 minutes to get back to what you were working on.
The next price is energy. The brain uses a chemical, dopamine, to rapidly shift information between neurons, depleting neuro resources as we go. “Glucose, glucose, glucose.” And we have a limited supply every day. This could easily fit into the why-do-so-many-people-get-a-heck-of-a lot-more-done-than-others discussion. They may simply be managing their dopamine / glucose supply better than others with less back and forth, back and forth … push through and you get better mileage.
For the framework of this post, every back and forth, every change of attention (every 45 seconds), every wrist flip swipe glance ping flash of the phone is, typically, a yes to something small. Especially if it’s social media.
If I summed up Zomorodi in one thought, it would be what if we changed up our digital habits? Zomorodi set up an experiment, Infomagical, making concrete suggestions for changing up our digital habits … and it looks something like this:
- Track your screen time and number of times you pick up your phone. My iphone does this for me, first page of settings. The fact that Apple built this into their ios (don’t they want us on our phones all the time?), maybe shows they care, shows us they are humans with children and lives too? That tracker screen is kind enough to interpret my time in color coded categories: productivity, social networking, games (which I only occasionally play, like on an airplane … it’s relaxing). I can see that Wednesday I was way above average (I think I was negotiating a contract and hustling with logistics for this trip and saying no to a massive amount of spam phone calls). Weekly total: 47 hours and 36 minutes.
- Delete the app that is making you the craziest. Just for one day. (I know, I can hear the shallow breathing now as you ponder the reality of a Facebook-less mobile phone day. You can still check it on your laptop.) I think I’ll try this.
- Reset your information goals for just one week. In Zomorodi’s Infomagical project, 71% of participants felt less overloaded.
Obvi, I was drawn to Zomorodi’s work, my favorite speaker at the conference I did not attend, so let’s take this discussion full circle.
We fill up our plate with hundreds of smalls, we live in a world of information overload, we are surrounded with technology pretty much strapped to our bodies. I am listening to a podcast as I type this … so this post is self-serving, I need an adjustment. I tracked … and the numbers indicate serious phone usage, evidence of data overload. Now delete. So here’s what I did at 8:58am on a Friday … I deleted Facebook from my iphone. [breathe.] Just for the weekend. I can check it on my laptop. And reset.
This post serves as a bit of a reset to increase awareness of and lower my screen time, address a bit of my information overload, focus on some big content and pay closer attention to getting the big things done.