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?

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