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.