The “productivity literature” (for lack of a better blanket term) is clear:
- Don’t read email first thing in the morning
- Don’t do social media in the morning
- Some even say: avoid news in the morning
The more I think about this, the more I try to increase my daily effectiveness, the more I realize that it all boils down to one principle:
Act, don’t react. Put off reaction for as long as possible.
And oh… my… gosh… this is so hard. The temptation to look for something to react to is practically overwhelming: an email I can reply to. A social media posting I can laugh at or be outraged by. A buzzfeed article I can develop an opinion about.
Anything to switch over from action to reaction.
I’m the sort of person (maybe everyone is this sort of person?) who has a reaction to everything. The food I eat, the things my kids do, the music I listen to, every scrap of media I consume… if I gave myself free reign, I’d have commentary on all of it.
I’m writing this right this moment because it’s a way to distract myself from the urge to react. In a sense, it’s a reaction to reaction.
Often very prominent creative types say things which turn out to be ill-considered, and garner an angry backlash. And people ask “how could they have not seen this coming?” I wonder if, sometimes, it’s simply because as part of being creative, they are people who have internalized the value of action-over-reaction to an extreme degree?
With my high-speed internet connection and lively social networks, I live in a world where I have limitless opportunities for public reaction every waking second. I’m finding that cranking this particular door of temptation closed is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
The flip side is that it might help foster creativity. I got that here: http://timharford.com/2016/01/my-ted-talk-on-how-distractions-make-us-more-creative/
P.S: I’m only here ’cause I’m waiting for my dev laptop to reboot 🙂
I know you’ve seen this quote before, but I’ll leave this here again just because I’m constantly awed at how utterly applicable it is to so much of life:
> “when you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.”
I guess I never realized you were so subject to this, because you convey the impression that you are very self-disciplined and keep it in check. I know I have this weakness, so it follows that you may have inherited some of it. 😉 Actually, you’re the one who inspires me to try to cut down on my knee-jerk reactions to low priority media. No longer working makes this temptation/excuse to be mentally lazy even harder to resist. But I guess with all the stuff coming at us, it affects everyone, even you! It’s a convenient distraction when you’re procrastinating on a challenging list of tasks. The trick is breaking the habit. If you can, you feel so much more productive, and then you can “reward” (?) yourself with a fix of reactivity later. Or better yet, you’re too tired by then to bother!
[…] Still not perfect. Also related: Don’t React. I noodled on this a bit more, and the following is what I came up with. It isn’t really […]
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