Time management requires pain management
The myth of Distractions
We all know how important it is to take care of your body. Take care of your health. And I think this is the big myth or lie around self-help these days that, in order to sell more self-help books, authors need to make you think that there’s some secret that you don’t know. That if you’re going to buy a diet book, it can’t just tell you to eat right and exercise. That’s a very short book. Does anybody not know that if you want to do better at your job, guess what? Do you have to do it? The work, especially the hard stuff that other people don’t want to do. Does anybody not know that to have better relationships, you have to be fully present with the people you love? Does anybody not know this? We know this, the question is not. How do we know some magical secret that we already know?
The question is why despite knowing what we need to do, why do we keep getting in our own way? The problem these days is that we keep getting distracted. And so that’s why I wanted to gain this superpower. That if you asked me what superpower I would most want? It would be the power to do, as I say, to follow through, to choose my attention, to control my life by deciding in advance, how I want to spend my time. That is the power to become indestructible.
If you want to be productive, if you want to spend time in the office, if you want to build your business, I’m not averse to any of that. I’m not saying that people should spend more time with their kids than at work that’s up to you and your values. And that’s why it’s really important for me to help people understand. I don’t want to tell you what to do. If you want to play video games all day. Great. That’s no problem. The difference is I want you to do whatever it is you want to do with intent because if you don’t plan your day, somebody is going to plan it for you. The social media companies, your boss, your kids, somebody is going to decide for you how you want to spend your time and how you are going to spend your life. If you don’t decide for yourself upfront. So I want to help you live according to your values, no matter what your values are. So I’m not one of these chickens, little tech critics that say, Oh, social media is bad. It’s melting your brain is hijacking your brain rubbish that’s ridiculous. Anything you want to do, even the fun stuff online is great. You can do those things, but do them according to your schedule and according to your values, not the social media companies, not somebody else’s values and calendar.
The first step was really understanding what distraction is. And I thought this was one of these terms that everybody thinks they know, we all know what distraction is, but I found I didn’t and words really matter and so I think defining what is a distraction is super important. So the best way to understand what distraction is not. So if you ask most people, what’s the opposite of distraction? Think for yourself here for a minute, what is the opposite of distraction? Most people will say it’s focused. Obviously, but that’s wrong. The opposite of distraction is not focused. The opposite of distraction. If you look at the origin of the word, the origin of the word shares the same route. With its opposite, which is traction. The opposite of distraction is traction. Both words come from the same Latin root, which means to pull. And you’ll notice that both words end in the same six letters, ACTEIO, and that spells action. So traction by definition is any action that pulls you towards what you say you’re going to do. Things that you do with intent things that help you live according to your values and help you become the kind of person you want to become.
Things that you do with intent things that help you live according to your values and help you become the kind of person you want to become. Those are of traction. The opposite of traction is this traction. Distraction is that right? Action that pulls you away from what you plan to do. Anything that pulls you further away from your values, further away from becoming the kind of person you want to become. So this is really important because what this means is that any action can be traction or distraction. And the reason this is so pernicious is that it distracts us by tricking us into doing the easy and urgent stuff. Rather the important than the important. Tasks. And so that’s why that’s so dangerous. The other side of the coin is that anything can be traction.
So when you ask for me, how did I start this? I started by turning my values into time. And this is incredibly important because values are another one of these words that people think they know what that word means, but they really don’t. I certainly didn’t to me, the definition of values are attributes of the person you want to become. So if you want to see what someone’s real values are, don’t listen to what they say. Look at two things, look at how they spend their time and how they spend their money. And if you think about it, the language we use around these two things are very similar. We pay attention, just like we pay with money. We spend time just like we spend money. These are two things that reflect our values. And as just as we wouldn’t just give people a hundred dollar bills on the corner, if they asked for it, why is it that with our time and attention. We give it to anyone. The only way to call something a distraction is to know what it distracted you from.
So if you can picture a number line with traction to the right distraction to the left. So let’s go back to what we talked about earlier around traction and distraction, right? So if you can picture a number line with traction to the right distraction to the left. And now we have to ask ourselves what prompts us to take these actions, right? So we have two types of triggers. So imagine an error 0.2 arrows pointing in one from the top one to the bottom, bisecting this line. And so we have what we call external triggers, which can lead us towards traction or district. So we’ve got our traction. We’ve got distraction. Now we’ve got the things that prompt us to take these actions. We have what we call external triggers and internal triggers. External triggers are these usual suspects. These are the pings, the dings, the rings. Everything in our outside environment can lead us towards distraction. And this is what people tend to blame. We tend to blame our phones, our computers, our kids, our boss, our coworkers, and all this stuff outside. But in fact, that is not the leading cause of distraction.
It turns out the reason that we check our phones, the reason we tend to get distracted, 90% of the time is about what’s going on inside of us, not the external triggers, but the internal triggers. What are internal triggers? Internal triggers are uncomfortable. Emotional States that we seek to escape from. uncomfortable emotional States that we seek to escape from boredom, loneliness, fatigue, stress, anxiety, uncertainty, these uncomfortable sensations that we will turn to something to try and escape. So when you’re lonely, Check Facebook when you’re uncertain before you scan your brain to see if you know the answer, just Google it when you’re bored. Tons of solutions for boredom. We can go to check sports scores, stock prices, and the news. All kinds of different things can help us satiate this uncomfortable emotional itch. And so once we understand that all human behavior is prompted by a desire to escape, discomfort, that distraction, and procrastination. It’s not a character flaw. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s simply that we don’t have the skills to deal with this kind of emotional discomfort in a healthy fashion that leads us to traction rather than distraction. So what that means, therefore is that time management. Requires pain management. Time management requires pain management The self-help industry really gives people a warped understanding of this goal that they put in people’s brains that we should somehow always be happy. That somehow, if you’re not happy, if you’re not contented, if you’re not hunky Dory in Nirvana land all the time, something’s wrong with you. Nothing could be further from the truth. And if you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes no sense for us to be happy all the time. Think about how every self-help book is about finding your happiness. Every self-help book says we’re supposed to be happy all the time. That is rubbish. Think about it from an evolutionary perspective. If there was ever a group of homosapiens. The ancestors were sitting around happy all the time and things were awesome and they were contented. Another group of homosapiens would have killed and eaten. Then that would not be an evolutionarily benefit trait. We need this perpetual disquietude this discomfort to drive us forward. That discomfort is not necessarily a bad thing. An internal trigger, remember an internal trigger, bisects, traction, and distraction. We want that disquiet too because that’s what makes us and the world better. The problem is. Is when it leads us, not towards traction, which is healthy, which is what we intend to do, but when it leads us towards distraction.
Blamers, Shamers, Claimers
So the blamers they say it’s something outside of me. It’s Facebook. It’s Netflix. It’s the boss. It’s my kids. It’s all this stuff outside of me. And of course, There’s nothing really you can do about that. And then the other extreme is what we call the shame or the shamer right. Doesn’t blame things outside themselves. They shame themselves, right. It’s a strong internal trigger and the more we feel this uncomfortable emotional state, the more likely we become, guess what to seek distraction to escape that uncomfortable internal trigger. So we don’t want to be blamers. We don’t want to be shamers. What’s the alternative? The third path is to be what we call a claimer, not a blamer, not a shamer, but a claimer claims responsibility, not for how they feel. This is a really important point. Many people don’t realize this. You do not control your feelings. Is that again, you do not control your feelings. You do not control your urges. Think about the urge to sneeze, right? If you have the urge to sneeze. You would already have it. You can’t control the urge to sneeze. All you can control is how you respond. The same goes for our emotions. You’re not. Responsible for feeling that urge to check social media for feeling the urge, to eat that chocolate cake for feeling the urge to smoke the cigarette, whatever the case might be, you are not responsible for that. The only thing you are responsible for is how you will respond to that urge, how you will respond to that feeling. And the good news is that we can train ourselves
So the first thing we want to do is to note the sensation. So psychologists tell us that if we can simply write down what it is, we’re feeling that precedes the distraction. The next thing we want to do is to get curious. Rather than contemptuous, right? And then finally, what we want to do is to surf the urge now, by the way, all of this comes from acceptance and commitment therapy. This isn’t some pet theory that I came up with. This has been around for a decade surfing the urge to acknowledge that our internal triggers these uncomfortable emotions. The crest and then they subside just like a wave, A wave comes and then goes, but we don’t think about emotions that way.
10 Minutes Rule
So here’s a technique that anyone can use. It’s called the 10 minute rule. The 10 minute rule says that you can give in to any distraction, but not right now in 10 minutes. So whether it’s, I really want to check email, not right now in 10 minutes. I really want a piece of that chocolate cake, even though I’m trying to cut back on sugar. Nope, not right now in 10 minutes. I really want to smoke that cigarette. Okay. Fine. But not right now in 10 minutes. Why is this so important? Why is it so powerful? Because we know that abstinence can backfire. That strict abstinence telling yourself no, rather than what I propose, which is not yet, is like pulling on a rubber band. If you pull on a rubber band, you pull. Eventually, if you keep pulling far enough, eventually you can’t pull anymore. And when you let go of that rubber band, it doesn’t just go back to where it started. No, it’s going to ricochet across the room. And so that’s what abstinence does to us. So the idea here is to not tell ourselves no but to tell ourselves not yet. And so many times I’ll just take out my phone. I’ll tell the phone, set a timer for 10 minutes. I’ll put my phone down and my job is to take one of two paths. So instead of, giving in to that distraction, what I want to do instead is to say, okay, I can either get back to the task at hand, let’s say it’s writing or whatever it is. I said I was going to do with my time. Let me get back to that. Or I just need to sit with that sensation. I need to surf the urge. I need to explore it with curiosity rather than contempt and what you will find. It’s amazing that those 10 minutes, first of all, they pass by so slowly. It’s amazing when you actually, the time it passes by very slowly and what you will find that nine times out of 10 when the alarm goes off.
When the 10 minutes are up, you will have already been back to the thing that you said you were going to do. Yeah. That distraction just Crested and then went away. So the 10 minute rule is a wonderful technique that anybody can adopt right now. It’s just one of the dozens of other techniques that we can use to help us master those internal triggers. Guilt is about, I did something that I don’t like, shame is about. I don’t like myself, Shame is about, I am bad versus what I did is bad. So releasing ourselves from this guilt that I am somehow a bad person. I think that’s a big part of, I think, what might’ve helped you is releasing that shame and just focusing on, okay, how can I get better? How can I improve this behavior without this needless shame? People who are more self-compassionate are much more likely to reach their long-term goals that it’s the people who talk to themselves the way they would talk to a good friend. And this is something that I think I really struggled with in the past is that I will be the worst bully to myself. What we need to remember is that whenever we talk to ourselves, remember to talk to ourselves the way you would talk to a good friend.
Time Management is Pain
I must be bad at time management. No, it’s just that you’ve reinforced the self-image that you are then of course if you believe you are well, then, the war is over, you lost because you will act in accordance to those beliefs, which is why. We need to stop measuring ourselves based on output and rather measure ourselves based on input that the kind of people who actually get way more done than the to-do list methodology is the people who measure themselves, not by how many, little boxes did I tick off because we know what people tend to do. Is the easy stuff. That’s why, because they love that feeling of ticking off boxes. They never get to the actually important stuff. They just tick off the easy stuff, but more so the people who plan the input.
We only have two ingredients time and attention. But how many of us plan for the input? We want all the output, right? So we want the output, but we don’t plan the input then should we be surprised when we don’t get it and putting it on a to-do list? Isn’t going to cut it. So you have to plan the input. You have to have that time on your calendar in advance, or you’re not going to get that out. There’s no constraint right there. There’s no constraint, to do this. The beauty of using this methodology to become distractible is that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought that when we get distracted when we go off track and we’ve already established that this is the real problem. Today is not that we don’t know what to do with that. We don’t know how to stop getting in our own way. This is fundamentally an impulse control issue. So what’s the antidote to impulsiveness it’s forethought because there is a gift that we as human beings have that no other animal on the face of the earth has, which is the ability to see the future with higher fidelity. We can predict what is going to happen better than any other animal on the face of the earth. And so what that means is that there is no distraction
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