The first of several times I attended college, I came upon a realization: No one is watching me! They don’t know where I AM! I immediately hid out in the library for days and days. No one ever questioned where I was. I was king of my own world. And I flunked most of my classes that semester. Wow, brilliant.
Later in life, when I was made a manager at the phone company, I realized that I had certain performance criteria, but beyond that, the job was mostly mine to make up. There were old ways of doing things, but my boss, Dave, was the kind of guy who let anyone hang themselves, or run free, depending on how you ended up doing things. I ran free for the most part, but there were days that I phoned it in, and that no one noticed. I felt so clever. Until that went nowhere.
Nowadays, I’m president and CEO of my own company. I have responsibilities at another company, plus I manage my own speaking and writing career. Technically, no one is watching me. I can do what I want with my time. Yep, I’m in that same position as I was in the old days at college or at my first management role. Only the stakes are even higher.
Distractions Are Part of Life
You don’t have to be the president of a company to be distracted. You have Facebook. You have Twitter. You have access to more entertainment options than ever before. Your phone can play movies while you sit at your desk, pretending to review the month’s stats. You can have eBay open in one window watching an auction while clicking the occasional bold and italic icons in Word.
We have more screens looking for our eyes than any other generation. Your phone boops and bleeps all the time. We have more channels than ever before on TV, plus Blu-Ray, plus Netflix. The circumstances aren’t really stacked in your favor, for you to stay on target. Layer in your kids, your significant other, your colleagues.
You Own This Life
When all is said and done, you own your time. You own your life. You own the distractions. The excuse of how great Mad Men was last night isn’t that useful to your “I should really finish this book deadline that’s overdue” issue.
In my own life, I tackled some of the distractions as such:
- Nothing beeps. My phone allows incoming calls to make a noise, but that’s it. Texts, tweets, emails, etc, all go in silent. I look at them when I’m ready.
- No TV. This is my personal choice. TV isn’t evil. I just don’t need to surrender hours of time to it.
- Twitter isn’t always on. I used to leave it on to answer people’s messages all the time. I can’t do that. Work needs doing.
- Email isn’t an all-day thing. (see my time blocking post to get more on that.
- I keep goals and projects visible everywhere. Seeing visual reminders keeps my eyes on work.
You Set the Limits
It’s up to you to decide what you want. It’s up to you to decide how to eliminate reasons for failure, and how to make your own success much more real. You decide what to take off the table, and you decide what you want to tackle.
Scary and liberating, all in one. What do you think?