40 Days of Focus for Lent

February 17, 2010 · 7 comments

in Productivity

I decided to do something for Lent this year, the second time ever. I’m non-denominational, so I don’t follow Catholicism. However, I thought Lent would be a good time to develop some new habits and practice 40 Days of Focus.

I’m giving up multiple windows of distraction for Lent!

Those of us who live, breathe and work in search and social media pop back and forth between programs, browsers, articles, Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, SEO tools, analytics, rows and columns of data in Excel, WordPress, PhotoShop, music, videos, podcasts and more. Oh … add email to that!

Lisa Barone posted on Twitter yesterday that it was “distraction disconnect time.”

Twitter & Distraction Disconnect Time

Twitter & Distraction Disconnect Time

Lisa struck a chord with me. It’s time for me to do that for 40 days.

Take a moment to look at the background image on @LisaBarone’s Twitter profile.

You see is a matrix of people that represents more than faces but friends, feelings, insights, news.

Valuable relationships and opportunities develop through Twitter and social networks. Many friendships result in expanded relationships, business opportunities and more. It’s all good, yet it can also be distracting.

Social Distractions

We are social pack animals. We are drawn to spend time with our friends. We want to socialize and hear the latest, to know what’s going on.

If curiosity killed the cat, then social curiosity can kill productivity.

Internet Marketers have an even harder time, I believe, to tame the distraction of social interaction. Our time on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks is part work, part play. However, it can also lead to multiple windows of distraction open at one time. These windows eats up one’s time.

Take a look at the screenshot below from Mashable on February 16, 2010 that reports on Nielsen’s numbers – Facebook is the web’s number-one time sink.”

[STATS] Facebook Is the Web’s Ultimate TimesinkFacebook Is the Web’s Ultimate Timesink

The average person spend 7 hours a month on Facebook. (That number is surely low for search marketers.)

Confession Time

I, too, am a social pack animal and enjoy time on Facebook, Twitter, sharing emails back and forth with friends. But …

I wrote about Social Media Shock last year and didn’t follow my own advice after some career changes and spent the last few months feeling like I’ve been working in an Emergency Room.

  • Confession: I stopped regularly setting aside dedicated quiet time for planning and processing.
  • Confession: I began checking emails more often and left Twitter open throughout the day.
  • Confession: I stopped writing every thing down, stopped dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s.
  • Confession: I stopped setting aside time to read books and write blog posts.
  • Confession: I stopped scheduling white space & began developing ADD.

Lent is the perfect time for redemption and sacrifice. :-)

Methodical Focus

It’s time to return to methodical focus, batch processing and prioritization of time!

The Facebook time-wasting study and Lisa’s Twitter distraction-shut-down tweet resulted from multiple windows that were open the day before the beginning of Lent.

I pondered,

“How much more would I get done if I shut down distractions for 40 days and only popped into Twitter, Facebook and email periodically?”

If it takes 7 days for an activity to become a habit and 21 days to break a habit, what can be accomplished in 40 days?

What about you? How can Lent be a time you use to develop some new habits?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christa Watson February 17, 2010 at 11:56 pm

WOW! I was searching for something to give up and this is PERFECT! Everything you said hit a chord with me. I try and do this as a daily practice, but don’t always follow it. I think having a set statement and owning up to it could help. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

Reply

2 Dana Lookadoo February 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

Christa, I’m laughing, because I didn’t share every “signal” that brought me to my Lent decision! YOU, my dear, were also influential. I saw your status update http://twitter.com/christawatson/status/9194551783 about giving something up for Lent. I thought, well,

“I’m not ‘religious’ in the traditional sense of the word, but Easter is the most influential holiday and basis of my faith. Heck, what would I be willing to sacrifice for 40 days prior?”

So, you my dear, are part of my time of Lent more than you realized. Thank you for sharing on Twitter and for taking the time here!!

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3 Brad Shorr February 18, 2010 at 6:38 am

Hi Dana, Your honesty is refreshing, and your spirit of reform and redemption are truly inspiring. I’ve been having a lot of these same thoughts lately, though not expressed as articulately as you have here. But I’m beginning to see – and advising clients as well – that in the trade off between experimentation and discipline, discipline is now more important in social media engagement. Now I’ve got to start practicing what I preach.

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4 Dana Lookadoo February 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

Brad, your comment means a lot!! Lent is the ideal time to reform. We often set New Year’s Resolutions then kick ourselves when January rolls around again. I often use July 1 as a mid-year evaluation point to see how I’m doing with my goals. This year, I realized Lent would be an appropriate sacrificial time. After all, change is the result of the breaking and forming of new habits!

I really like your point that there is, a “trade off between experimentation and discipline,” because you know as an educator and SEO that both are necessary. Social media engagement is necessary, to a point. I guess it’s similar to the idea behind red wine – a little red wine is good for the heart, which does not mean that more is better.

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5 Gabriella February 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

What a nice way to keep in check. Your comment, “change is the result of the breaking and forming of new habits”, made me stop and think. It seems I’m more productive when worksheets are laid out quarterly rather than monthly. That could be the analytic influence – checking then tweaking as things change… fleeting as those moments may seem, it does help. As much as I love being on as many social networks as possible, I have had to reign myself in and focus on how much time I spend on each, using trackable results.

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6 Dana Lookadoo February 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Oh, Gabriella, “trackable results …” ROI of social media is so fleeting, while at the same time data does show that presence builds presence. The value and the distractions are both immense! Your blog post last month on Level 343, Organic SEO and Tracking Your Social Networks, summarizes the importance of setting goals, tracking and using the tools well. You stated,

A small business owner may not be able to participate in all these networks all the time.

Business owners must ensure their activity revolves around goals, as you shared. Goal setting and tracking require focus, which sometimes means we need to shut down to create an oasis (or 2 or 3) for that time each day.

Thank you, dear friend, for taking the time to share your thoughts. I shall keep your “reign myself in and focus” as one of my mantras during Lent…and beyond!

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