4. Switch off the Internet!
The Internet is not your life support machine: Switch it off!
Anxiety levels about money are on the rise. We live in times of pervasive, seemingly never-ending overwhelm. Stress – which arises from being here, but wanting to be there, is escalating into collective panic. Achievement, accomplishment, the need for approval, these are all ego patterns and mind scripts that we are running at full tilt. The consumer culture is one of debt and deficit, of scarcity and lack. It thrives on persuading us that there is not enough: time, not enough money, not enough holidays… so we are driven to accumulating more than we need, and then some. Our wheels are spinning ever faster just trying to keep up.
Out there in cyberspace, the internet of everything is creeping up on us like something from the Twighlight Zone. Too much information makes us feel uncertain and out of sync with the universe’s natural rhythms. On the world wide web there are no cyclical shifts, no natural demarcations of the seasons. When everything is on 24/7, and we’re constantly surfing, where does day begin and night end? Meanwhile, the endless distraction of doing becomes a substitute of simply being.
We need to draw a line in the sand that says : Enough. This is good enough. You are good enough.
PACT: Sandy toes, salty kisses.
OK, so let’s make a pact starting with being less “informed” [invaded!] Remember that too much information is time consuming, negative, beyond your immediate control and irrelevant. Cut back one small step at a time. Instead we’re intentionally aiming for selective ignorance, to lose the crowd noise, to dis-engage from the sound-bite tribes [bye-bye # Tweets]:
- It’s cool to disconnect, to limit surfing, to catch up on social media far less frequently. Get – offline – and – LIVE!
- Instead of buying a newspaper every day just buy it once a week instead. Or only read the headlines.
- Switch the TV off, listen to music instead and limit TV sessions to 120 minutes a week pleasure viewing only.
- A full email inbox doesn’t equate with winning a popularity contest, it does not cure loneliness or feelings of inadequacy, so go through your inbox and unsubscribe. Be ruthless and eliminate all the non essential stuff.
- Resist checking your emails first thing in the morning, instead spend two hours working on the thing that you identified [earlier], as your most daunting task. Don’t take non-urgent phone calls. If you haven’t finished in the allotted two hours, make a note to carry it forward later today if it’s genuinely time critical. Otherwise roll it over for tomorrow.
- Only check your inbox twice a day, say at around 11am and 4pm. Then give yourself a couple of ½ hour slots for reading and responding. No going off at tangents just deal with the relevant stuff and move on. The “Escape” button is called that for a reason – hit it!
- Prime expectations. Ban junk mail, block cold calls, avoid meetings and conference calls wherever possible. Just ask for a copy of the minutes, so you can catch up in your own time. Don’t tolerate unproductive interruptions, if someone in the office isn’t getting to the point:
Try : “Hi [Interruption], I’m right in the middle of something, but if you send me a quick email I’d be happy to help.” Emails train people to define the desired outcome, and it’s a great deflection technique to preserve your time and increase mutual efficiency. WIN: WIN.
To back this up create an auto-email response [and voice mail message] along the following lines:
“Hi, due to a really busy schedule I’m currently checking and responding to messages twice daily. This helps me to focus and assist you better. Thanks in advance for your patience and have a great day.”
Don’t tolerate the avoidable feel bad stuff – limit contact with negativity, avoid the friends who are constantly energy vampires, (you know the ones). If the film isn’t living up to the hype – leave. Ditto the seminar, the work shop, the pod-cast..whatever… if you’re not getting maximum benefit from your time which after all is your MOST precious resource: aim for the EXIT.
Give yourself permission to walk away [run if necessary] from anything that gives you bad vibes. Trust your instinct and don’t feel that you need to explain or apologise.
Use e-cards to keep in touch with friends whereever you are in the world. Take a look at www.jackielawson.com. To manage call costs use WhatsApp, Skype or Facetime.
Here are some more productivity tools to leverage your time :
For diary sync scheduling, try www.doodle.com.
For capturing thoughts, creating ‘to-do’ items www.jott.com or to dictate a message and have it emailed to you www.copytalk.com.