Have you ever imagined what the internet would be like if it were a physical space? Imagine walking down its streets being constantly bombarded with bells, whistles, shouting, lights, explosions, and total chaos.
Everywhere you turn is a street performer doing everything their power to grab the world’s most valuable resource; your attention.
It sounds like a hellscape — but that’s what we open our laptop to find each and every day.
I’m guessing, like me, you constantly find it hard to focus, don’t you? And without focus, that to-do list just keeps growing longer.
The reality is, if we’re not explicitly intentional with where we put our focus, then there are plenty of people who would will gladly do it for us.
For me, I feel like this just continued to get worse over the years — at some points thinking I couldn’t wrestle control back in my own hands. And while it’s still a daily battle (there are so many shiny objects out there!), there have been a few little tricks I’ve picked up along the way that have really helped.
- Embrace routine. As ‘creative’ people, most of us don’t even like the thought of a routine — but having these guardrails keeps the chaos out. For me this starts with a “day start” routine, and a “day end” routine that, if nothing else, bookends my day with some intentionality.
- Daily top 3. A big hat tip to Noah Britton for this one, as part of my routine I list out the 3 things that are most important to accomplish for the day. Sure, the ideal list is 10 times as long — but 3 is a manageable number that strikes a balance between progress and practicality while helping me build momentum. We’ve started doing this as a group inside the Barfly Slack, and the public accountability makes it even better.
- Time Blocking. Just like we wouldn’t drop every element into a web page without the structure and grouping of sections, containers, and divs, going through the day without a schedule leads to a lot of waisted energy and invites in the distractions.
It’s not about silencing the noise emanating from the streets of the internet — the chaos is part of the appeal — it’s about tuning into the right frequencies.
All of us have the same amount of time and attention to spend in a day. We can invest it, or we can squander it.