I think it’s safe to say all entrepreneurs want to be more productive. Distractions however often keep us from focusing on the task at hand. One of the biggest distractions can be the news. Take for example the recent protests on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Supporters of President Trump stormed the White House during the counting of electoral votes. News coverage inevitably lead to an afternoon of distraction for many people.
However, for those individuals like myself that consider ourself indistractable had no idea this was even going on. In fact, that particular day was a highly productive day for me. I didn’t even know what was going on until the next day when I walked into my physical therapy appointment and saw it on the news.
Stop paying attention to the news
A few years ago I adopted a, “no news principal.” It was really pretty simple. I don’t read or watch the news. At all! Unless something BIG happens.
It’s not that I don’t care about what is going on in the world. It’s more that most of what goes on has no bearing on my day to day life. If something is really that big, I will definitely hear about it. Take COVID for example. I didn’t even know it was a big concern until the weekend just before all the shut downs began.
We have plenty of distractions in our life. I’m a firm believer that the daily news cycle is full of mostly irrelevant information for most people. Granted, I fully acknowledge there are some professions where paying attention to the news is VERY important. But for a majority of the population the news only serves as a distraction and a source of anxiety.
If you feel the constant pressure to check the news and that is distracting you from producing quality work. I would encourage you to take a break from it for at least 30 days. Do it cold turkey too. And at the end of the thirty days make the decision if paying attention to the news is really all that important to you.
If you discover, YES, being current is of great value to you. Then by all means pay attention to the news, but set yourself specific time blocks during the day to check. And resist the urge to check constantly throughout the day, because all that does is break your concentration and ability to get deep meaningful work done.
Your Best Work is Done in Flow
Your best work can only get done in flow states. Extended periods of time when you are focused on one single task. Whether that be solving a problem or producing a piece of content for your website, or making progress on a large project you are working on.
We have plenty of pings, dings, and other distractions in our life. So, why not try eliminating the news. I’ve personally found that this has been a huge benefit to me, as I can stay focused on producing quality work.
Distractions are the opposite of traction. They pull us away from what we really should be working on. And often times it’s just be cause we are anxious or bored. If you can manage to disconnect from things like news and social media you are more likely to enter flow states of high productivity.
Ditch Social Media
It’s no longer a secret. Social media is DESIGNED to keep you engaged. There is a reason why you can scroll infinitely. They want you to! Even the developers themselves that KNOW how it works can’t resist the temptation.
Social media can be your biggest enemy when it comes to getting focused work done.
About a year ago I did an experiment with the prompting of Cal Newport in his book Deep Work. I did a 30 day social media fast to determine its impact on my life and business.
I discovered a few things:
- It didn’t bring as much value to my life as I thought
- My business had its best month EVER in my business
- I got loads of focused work done
- I was able to be more present for my family outside of work time
- Resisting distraction got easier
At first I found that I was STILL constantly tempted to reach for my phone. Even though social media apps were uninstalled. I would still open up my phone and flip through screens and even open random apps. All because I was experiencing a tinge of discomfort.
Embrace Discomfort and Be More Productive
When we condition our minds to distract ourselves every time our board. That same temptation will crop up when you sit down to write a page for your book, or write a proposal. The slightest hint of discomfort will have us reaching for our phone, or opening up Facebook, or a news site.
We must exercise our ability to resist the temptation. Otherwise we will always produce sub-par work.
I believe the best way to do this is to re-evaluate our relationship with things like social media. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them completely. I still haven’t.
But we must re-think how and when we engage with it because the pings, dings, and continuous news feeds are only distracting us from getting meaningful deep work done.