Bemoaning the maddening busy-ness of your workweek? Why do you feel you have to be constantly connected to incoming input?
You’ve done it or seen others do it: constantly texting (probably multiple conversations at once), emailing, browsing, gaming, or talking on the phone. To what end? There is no way that ANYONE has that much they NEED to engage with throughout their waking hours. Maybe it has to do anxiety that constantly taps your shoulder, making you believe you must be on the lookout for real time problems or new opportunities or risk missing out on something important.
I call it “rocking chair” behavior: you’re moving, but you’re not going anywhere.
Just because you have the technology that provides a constant stream of information doesn’t mean you should or must stay at the end of its tether. You are deluding yourself into believing that everything that is reported in a 24/7 culture is relevant or important for your survival and success.
It’s not. Most of it is simply noise.
“Life . . . is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.”— William Shakespeare, Macbeth
You are hard-wired to perk up at anything perceived as “negative” in the environment for your own self-preservation. However, in today’s world, this caveman threat response is working overtime. Your residual reptilian brain equates almost everything you encounter in the modern world with a wild animal attack. Consequently, the constant assault of 21st century information translates into a stream of perceived survival threats, creating feelings of overwhelm and locking you in a constant threat response. Contrary to the benefit you thought you were getting by drinking in all this data, the resulting chronic threat response actually decreases your thinking capacity and narrows your focus instead of expanding it.
Just stop it.
I’m not advocating burying your head in the sand to avoid what requires your attention. Simply, become smarter about where you put your attention. Have the courage to pull yourself loose from the constant stream of input focus on what is really important. Become intentional about what information you allow into your awareness, then consciously and deliberately determine what to do with it.
“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” — Lao Tzu
Here are 3 suggestions for uncoupling yourself from the barrage of input and deliberately attending to what matters:
1. Set an intention
. . . an intention to stop getting sucked in by each piece of information coming your way and the temptation to respond immediately to it. The earth won’t stop spinning if you don’t immediately text someone back or allow a phone call to go to voicemail. And no one will hate you. Others are probably surprised that you are so available most of the time anyway. (Try not watching TV or streaming news for a week. You’ll be surprised on how much you DIDN’T miss.)
2. Set boundaries with yourself and others
. . . about what you respond to and when. When do you choose to be most available to respond immediately to texts and phone calls? What times throughout the day do you choose to return emails? What times of day do you choose not to respond immediately to phone calls, email, or texts? What is the definition of an “emergency” that will justify an interruption and trigger an immediate response from you? To whom do you choose to always respond immediately — Boss? Parent? Child? Spouse? Bookie?
3. Clarify the purpose and current vision of success
. . . for yourself and your organization. Knowing this, you’ll know what information is relevant to attend to.
At bottom, you must have the courage to choose. Choose what you allow into your world. The rest can remain noise.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations with greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more: firebrandconsultingllc.com.