“I get up every morning around 7AM…”
San Diego. March 2016. I think.
I was standing with a group of mimosa-sipping business owners, when someone asked about my writing schedule.
“First I shower. Then I meditate. Then I sit down to write.”
I described my process, and how I feel at a visceral level when I need to take a break from writing.
After that, I continued: “Then, I get up… walk over to my modem… plug it in… and start my day.”
“Wait, what?” one of them asked. “Your modem is unplugged?”
“Oh yeah!” I answered. I didn’t realize that was so weird. “Every night, before I go to bed, I unplug my modem. And my phone is already on Airplane Mode. Heck it’s pretty much always on Airplane Mode. I’m unreachable unless someone knocks on my door. And I usually don’t answer.
“That way, I can’t even check my phone or get on the internet when I first wake up. I just write. And I assume my day is pretty much going to go to hell as soon as I plug in that modem. Because sometimes it does.”
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a similar afternoon session. I’ll march over to my modem and rip the plug out of the wall. Then I’ll plop down in front of my laptop, and begin Round 2. Or 3 or 4 or whatever. I’m thinking of doing a more formal nighttime session like this, after my evening meditations and right before I go to bed.
This is augmented discipline.
All the blips and bloops your computer emits, as well as your phone’s screeching, are designed to distract you.
They want to pull you off your task and check on them instead. Otherwise, the apps behind the blurps would get less attention, fewer uses, and couldn’t command advertising rates as high. They certainly don’t want you prolific or fulfilled. It’s not relevant to their interests.
You can fight their influence with your willpower. And you have to, to avoid your apps entirely. But you can augment this discipline by making it a tiny bit harder to access them. Sort of like keeping ice cream, chips, and soda out of your kitchen. If you have to drive to the store to get it – or order it – then it’s harder to mindlessly nosh on it.
If your schedule doesn’t allow a morning marathon session of unplugged work, then schedule one later in the day. At the appointed time, rip your modem power cord from its socket. Turn off your phone. Then, you can’t check distracting apps, even if you wanted to.
Start practicing this, and you’ll experience something fascinating:
Your productivity is no longer linear. Your relatively short blocks (aim for half-hour blocks if you’re new to this, and increase) of work will launch you lightyears beyond people doing the same work on a distracted schedule.
Test it and see how augmented discipline works for you. You’ll begin producing so much, you might feel guilty about finishing so much by early afternoon.