Hooked On Crack

I’m addicted. You are too.

Dopamine is the drug. Our smartphones are the delivery mechanism.

On average we check our smartphones 200 times a day. And every time we check them, we get a little hit of dopamine.

Dopamine is a pleasure-seeking neurotransmitter in the brain. It seeks out novelty. It’s stimulated by unpredictability. It thrives on anticipation. It wants more and different.

When we dive into our emails and text messages; when our news alerts go off; when we surf through Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn; our brains are awash with dopamine.

And oh how we love our dopamine.

Like crack cocaine, it’s addictive.

The more we get, the more we desire it.

Research suggests that smartphone addiction can be every bit as powerful as drug addiction. Being away from our smartphones can leave us moody, anxious and panicky.

But that’s not the real downside.

Smartphone addiction robs us of our productivity.  Interruption science demonstrates clearly that when we shift our attention from one thing to another, there is a drag on our focus, an attention residue. The drag has been measured: It takes us at least 11 minutes to re-focus completely. So some simple math: 200 checks of the smartphone x 11 minutes of lost attention per check = 36.6 hours of lost attentive productivity each day. (Talk about deficit spending. Not only do we feel as if we never get caught up, the reality is that we never really do.) screenshot-2016-10-23-15-08-42

Smartphone addiction robs of our ability to connect: to really connect with one another on a deep and meaningful level. To be here now in this one and only moment. To breathe in the air. To experience the present. To really relate to and honor one another.

(Next time you’re standing in line, look around you. Almost every head is down. Getting another hit of dopamine.)

Even more than that, smartphone addiction cause our brains become soft. We lose the ability to focus. We lose the capacity to do deep, uninterrupted work. Work that matters. Creative work. Breakthrough work. Legacy work.

In The Shallows, Nicolas Carr says, “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”

In a New York Times piece entitled Addicted To Distraction, Energy Project CEO Tony Schwartz writes, “One evening early this summer, I opened a book and found myself reading the same paragraph over and over, a half dozen times before concluding that it was hopeless to continue. I simply couldn’t marshal the necessary focus.”

Schwartz is not alone. I experience the very same thing all too often.

We all love a good hit of dopamine.

But if you really want to succeed, if you really want to thrive, get clean. Do what Cal Newport refers to as Deep Work.

Get focused. The future will belong to those who can.

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Would you like to increase your focus and productivity? Go HERE now and download my free guide, 7 Productivity Hacks.

 

 

 

 

Set It & Forget It; Crash & Burn

I’m a big fan of systems.

Systems make things easy; safer too.

Pilots have systems; surgeons have systems; successful entrepreneurs and business professionals have systems.

Systems routinize. They reduce mind clutter.

You have a system for brushing your teeth. (Thank god, you don’t need to re-think that every single day.) You likely have a system for making your coffee; and onboarding clients; and scheduling appointments; and keeping track of your finances.

When you systematize things, you free yourself up. You can turn your attention elsewhere.

But you can’t just set them and forget them.

An airplane traveling between New York and London can be off course 90% of the time and still get to Heathrow, so long as the autopilot is making its moment to moment corrections. But if the autopilot goes awry, and the captain is asleep at the switch, the plane may end up in Cape Town.

Or worse.

A solo sailor in the around the world British Open Challenge ran his expensive, high performance racer onto an island in the middle of the night because of error in the auto pilot.

A coach of mine once said there are no people failures, only systems failures. If something in your business or your life isn’t working well, you need a better system.

Maybe. screenshot-2016-10-19-15-01-21

But I think we fail when we don’t check our systems to be sure they’re serving us well.

I recently checked the system I had put in place for one of my retirement accounts. Because I hadn’t reviewed it regularly, I belatedly discovered that I “enjoyed” a 15% return. But missed out on the 110% gain that I might have seen, had I been watching.

Oops.

That wasn’t a systems failure. That was my failure.

Good systems are essential for business (and life) success. And like everything in our planning practices, they need to be watched and reviewed.

You can set them and forget them; but you may crash and burn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Fool Yourself

I had to fool myself. It was the only way really.

It was raining hard. And it was rather dark. And I was tired. And my muscles ached.

I had a lot to do; a very full day.

I had a thousand excuses for not getting out the door to run.

But I’m a runner. And runners run. foolyourself

So I told myself a story: I told myself that I wasn’t going to run. No, instead, I told myself that I was going for a walk. A short walk. A very short walk. A walk just to the end of the driveway; maybe as far as the corner; certainly no further than that.

I laced up my shoes and put on my raincoat. Out I went for my walk.

Well, it wasn’t raining nearly as hard as I thought. The air was fresh and clean. It felt good to be out of the house. The morning light lifted my spirit.

I started walking faster.

Oh, how good it felt to be stretching my legs; the oxygen filling my lungs; the dawn beginning to clear.

I walked faster still. And a bit further. I told myself I’d go a bit further.

And soon I was running. Full out.

Smiling; laughing. Feeling so good in my body.

I finished my entire running loop.

But only because I fooled myself.

I need to do this from time to time (as in, a lot) when it comes to writing, or digging into a big work project, or when the yard needs raking.

I tell myself I’ll just start out; I’ll just do “it” for just 20 minutes; I’ll keep it short; I can quit whenever I want.

I fool myself into action. To overcome that horrible first law of physics: inertia.

Action begets action. (The second law of physics takes over: momentum.) I settle into the flow, and before I know it, the project is done.

Fool yourself. It works. I recommend it. Often.

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When you’re ready to kick it up a notch, we should talk. I coach the fastest, easiest and most reliable system for getting more clients than you can handle, even if you hate marketing and selling (like I once did). Email me: walt@walthampton.com

 

 

 

Your Secret Recipe

Brené Brown, in her beautiful book The Gifts of Imperfection, has a wonderful exercise: List your “ingredients for joy and meaning,” she instructs.

It’s a powerful exercise because, for most of us, the ingredients are pretty simple; and they don’t cost very much. For me, they’re a long gentle run along the coast, feeling the wind on my face on a mountaintop, having the time to read a good book, sitting on my porch looking out at the sea, or sharing a simple meal and a glass of wine with my wife, my best bud, Ann. screenshot-2016-10-05-18-13-54

But, for some reason, many of us lose track of our ingredients. Instead we race around looking for new and exciting places to go, and the latest shiny toys to buy. (Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, and I really like nice toys.) We plan grand things for the year ahead and often end up exhausted and depleted. (Do you remember that last vacation that you had to go back to work to rest up from?) And we wonder why we’re missing out on joy and meaning.

We focus single-mindedly on the destination (as success driven folks tend to do); and neglect the journey. We get lost in the doing rather than the being.

Maybe Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had it right. Maybe our heart’s desires aren’t so far away after all.

Maybe joy and meaning are here. Right in front of us.

As we live into this last quarter of the year, it might be worthwhile to remember the ingredients. Our ingredients.