A few years ago I was meeting with a client. In person. A real, live human being in my office! (Remember when you still met with people in person?) I was sitting across from my client trying to have a conversation while looking at email on my laptop. While also reading and answering a text that had just arrived.
Are you kidding me — what was I thinking?!
Have you ever done that to someone? Or have you ever been the “client” in that situation and some over-distracted vendor, boss, employee, husband, wife, friend, or child done the same to you?
I’ve written in the past about the losing battle we are fighting against distractions. It is no wonder we have a hard time staying focussed and making good decisions.
So to help you make better decisions, here are three steps you can take to help you be less distracted, achieve more clarity, and practice The Mushin Way:
- Remove wireless email from your smartphone immediately;
- Turn off all “push” notifications coming to your smartphone;
- On your laptop or desktop, do the same thing — turn off EVERY push notification, including email. (Set your email to refresh and pull in new messages either manually or only a few times during the day.)
By doing these three steps, you are starting to take back control. You are becoming proactive and maintaining your “center” — creating balance, harmony and focus. Once you stop being reactive to inbound distractions such as emails, text messages, and social media posts, you can start to batch your time into focussed, undisturbed periods of work. Remember, “time management” is a myth — you cannot manage time. You can, however, manage your energy and focus.
In his new book, Deep Work: Rules for Focussed Success in a Distracted World, author and Georgetown University professor Cal Newport describes how you can develop the skills necessary to increase your focus. Key to successfully achieving this is batching your time into uninterrupted periods of work. Or play. Or study. Or relaxing. You can read a nice review of Deep Work here.
So what do you think happened to that client that sat in front of me while I was overly distracted? He is no longer my client. I don’t blame him. I would have done the same thing if the tables were turned.
Don’t let this happen to you and your clients, ok? And if you have any questions about the three steps above, tweet me @mpveltri or leave a comment below — I’m happy to help you gain more clarity, make better decisions, and thus, practice and embrace The Mushin Way.