I love reading books that can genuinely change your life. The Bible would be one of those for sure, and I try to read a bit of that every day.
I’ve already written on this blog about the amazing power of ‘Time to Think’ by Nancy Kline and the revised ‘More Time to Think‘, which I encourage my clients to read as well as practise – as much as they possibly can. If you missed it the first time, you can read it here
Well, a few weeks ago, one of my clients was telling me about a book that he has on his shelf but hasn’t got around to reading yet. It is called ‘Deep Work’ and whilst it totally complements the premise of ‘Time to Think’, it also allows you to put the strategies into immediate practise without any collaboration from anyone else at all.
My client and I agreed to read the book simultaneously (not literally you understand!) and review together at another session to see what implications there would be for both of us.
I haven’t got the space to give you full details of the impact that this book has had on me, but what I can do is talk about one small but significant aspect.
The sub-heading for the book is Rules for Focussed Success in a Distracted World. In one chapter, the author, Cal Newport suggests that if you are someone who doesn’t need more than a couple of seconds of delay before pulling out your mobile phone, then you will struggle to remain focussed when you are trying to engage in some Deep Work.
I instantly confessed to myself that he was talking about me as well as pretty much everyone I know under the age of sixty as well as a few who are over that age.
By this stage of the book, I had become so captivated by the sheer level of productivity and time management efficiency that can be achieved with a bit of hard work, cold turkey and good old-fashioned persistence, I was determined to prove to myself that I did not have to remain a slave to the ubiquitous distractions that track my every move and mood.
So I decided that when I went out the other day to run a few errands, I would actually – and deliberately – leave my mobile phone at home.
It was tough I have to admit.
Just leaving it there on the desk, all alone, with no one to hold it or speak into it, no one to check in with it intermittently.
I felt almost as if I was leaving a helpless baby in its cot while I popped out for an hour or two.
Leaving my phone felt irresponsible, mildly perilous and borderline illegal.
I have to confess also, I did have a moment of fear when I suddenly realised I would be in serious trouble if my car broke down, or there was a freak rain storm and I needed to call for help.
Thankfully, I dispatched all of those pathetic excuses aimed at keeping me in my digital cage and left my phone anyway.
At the supermarket checkout, I inevitably found myself in a queue and guess what, I looked around, smiled at one or two people, let someone go in front of me as he only had a couple of items. I even had time to soak up the mild thrill of making it this far without the so-called comfort of having my mobile phone on me.
Although at times, it did feel like a risky mission… albeit low risk.
I truly enjoyed a coffee in the sun, whilst simply gazing at the various people walking by, doing their thing…constantly checking their phones. I was especially sad when I was convinced they were sat opposite a partner or friend (that is a whole other subject which I may return to at a later date).
By the time I returned home, amazingly, no one had died!
I had done it.
It sounds somewhat pathetic – when you really consider the challenge – but I have to tell you the feeling was very liberating indeed.
I loved the fact that I had one missed call! A genuine missed call – not one that I chose not to take because I was busy looking at something or talking to someone else.
Since then, I have been continuing to rein in my mobile distraction. I am constructing a plan that will allow me to do more Deep Work at the same time as live a normal, modern, multi-connected life – just not literally at the same time.
The section in the book where he talked about getting your phone out after a two second delay is called Embrace Boredom. An interesting invitation; why not resist that urge to pick up your device and – instead – take a few minutes to look out of your window, or speak face to face with a real human being, or go for a walk – the greener the better (another scientifically proven asset to your thinking).
What all this really translates into is this: if you can cold turkey your way out of this addiction to distraction, you may well find that you are appreciating a more productive reality.
Please feel free to reply with your most common forms of distraction and what you intend to do about them now.