It’s a travesty that our best hours each day are spent in distraction.
Distraction destroys our ability to fall into a deeply focused state which leads us to compromise on the work that we create.
Many of us work in the knowledge sector where our jobs have no real measurable of how productive we are, so we are forced to find new ways to show that we are valuable.
We answer emails as quickly as possible to show that we are working. We jump on social media and needlessly comment on posts to show that we are engaged. We go to meetings that we know won’t be relevant to us, just to feel important. We respond to text messages from work afterhours to show that we are always available.
I say “we” in the previous sentence, but I could have easily changed this to “me.”
I was good at doing superficial work.
Superficial work made me look and feel busy. Superficial work required little thought. Superficial work was quick and easy. Superficial work made me feel significant. After all, I was answering a lot of emails and doing a lot of “work.”
This busyness also felt good as I was answering hundreds of email a day and finishing the day with a clean inbox. The only problem was that at the end of the day, those hundreds of email didn’t add up to any significant work being produced.
Each time an email landed in my inbox I would rush to go answer it. Each time I answered an email, I would disengage from the current task I was working on. It would take me seconds, sometimes minutes to refocus back onto the current task after replying to that email. This constant distraction happened hundreds of times a day with social media, instant chats and text messages.
I was quickly losing any momentum I had to create results that mattered.
Here’s the truth, being busy doesn’t mean you are producing your best work. In fact, being busy means you aren’t producing your best work. In order to create your best work, you have to be not busy. You have to be in a deeply focused state, focused directly on one single task for an extended period of time.
To create work that is meaningful and ground-breaking you must stretch your brain to its maximum capacity while remaining relatively stress free. This is the magical zone of FLOW, where you produce your most creative, thoughtful, and meaningful work.
So turn off your email, put your phone in airplane mode, block off your calendar, book a meeting room, and grab yourself a coffee. Sit in that room and do work that matters. Do work that make a difference in the world. Do work that is meaningful to you.