We’re drowning in distractions.
If only that damn phone would stop beeping at me, then I’d get some work done.
Can’t YouTube…you know…just not exist, so I can finally find my passion in peace?
It would be so much easier to be productive if Instagram stopped spewing out so many glorious pictures.
Techy stuff is everywhere, it’s here to stay, and it will continue to expand in its impact exponentially.
Information is pouring in through cracks in the roof and bubbling up through the floor.
Everyone risks falling into the trance of Internet-driven distraction.
Why? Because a lot of it is shiny, dopamine-pumping brain sugar.
It provides us with social validation on a drip feed, which is in rather robust demand, as many of us are more isolated, depressed and fed up than ever before.
So it’s fair play to the creators of these things.
But it’s not Mark’s fault that we’re doing less; creating superficially; fidgety and lacking in focus.
It’s very much our fault.
You are not eight-years-old (hats off to you if you are). You do not need to flick through a stream of ten-second clips for two hours every day.
Yes, many of these distracting tools have benefits. I use them all the time.
I’m not about to bore you with a monologue about how great the Internet has been for us, because many have beaten me to it.
I will bore you with something else, instead:
It’s not these distractions that are the problem. It’s your strategy.
If you’re spending more time procrastinating than working on something that fascinates you, you do not have a strategy.
Rather than trying to not be distracted, and getting annoyed with yourself for continually succumbing, you need to make your work more interesting.
You need to figure out what it is — that single thing — you will commit to over the next few months or years, that will blow people’s minds.
- A portfolio of trippy urban watercolours
- An app that plays sounds to calm your dog
- A deep and colourful science fiction novel
- A collection of books in a series
- An album of brain-melting ambient electronica
- A head-turning ad campaign
- An online business selling cat mugs with attitude
- A kick-ass sculpture that glows in the dark
Aim to make it the best you can make it. This will be worth it because the process will engage you over time, even if you have off-days.
That’s your strategy.
Build a single beacon of value and beauty that will make you proud and bring people to you.
Pride is an enormously undervalued state of being, and you want to do things that make you feel more of it. Otherwise, what do you have?
Create something incredible. Create something atmospheric and weird. Make something that has never been seen before.
Make something rich in colour and life and love.
Make something small to start, if you need. Write a short tale about a boy who gets lost in a water park on Mars.
And do it to bring you to life. Have a market in mind, but create something you believe in for the simple fact that you can feel it in your soul.
Today’s work has to compete with the endorphin-boosting caramel crunch of the ten-second video clip, so make your work tasty for you.
This is the only ‘strategy’ you need.
When you find your hunger again, the things you once saw as distractions will flicker out and die.
You need to fill your days with an obsession to make something spectacular, attached to a warm and unexpected way of providing service (I.e. Say hello to your customers and followers!).
Most people are trying to do too much, and they’re being distracted to top it all off.
But that’s other people. You can get moving, and you can choose something small and narrow. Get the first step done. Give yourself that confidence. Then keep going.
Take your focus away from what drains your attention, but rather than seeing distractions as bad, recognise that many of these tools can provide you with an immense advantage too.
Social media now provides a space-time continuum linking your craft to tens of thousands, potentially millions of people. Don’t forget this. Social media is powerful if used well, in short pumps.
Focus on making amazing things and not giving up. While everyone is scrolling through Instagram, you will have the ‘unfair advantage’ that most are looking for but will never find.
Few are working on one exceptional thing. Most are distracted or being spread thin.
So seize that advantage.
Go out and build it.