Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (99u #1)

A great option for the night owls among us is to use the late-night hours for solitude and distraction-free space. If you work best at night, you can find solitude by scheduling a block of time to work alone after dark.

All of the most fulfilled people I know focus more on the quality of their connections than the quantity of them.

But these days the demons are more insidious; they’re the everyday annoyances, the little things that suck away our potential to do big things.

But this is an exception to the general rule that multitasking is a productivity drag masquerading as an efficiency booster.

Creative minds are highly susceptible to distraction, and our newfound connectivity poses a powerful temptation for all of us to drift off focus.

Deep and regular breathing, also referred to as diaphragmatic breathing, helps to quiet the sympathetic nervous system and allows the parasympathetic nervous system—which governs our sense of hunger and satiety, the relaxation response, and many aspects of healthy organ function—to become more dominant.

every great leader must face his or her demons in order to overcome them. I’ve always known this, but I wasn’t aware of any immediate problems. But these days the demons are more insidious; they’re the everyday annoyances, the little things that suck away our potential to do big things.

Frequency keeps ideas fresh.

Frequency keeps the pressure off. If you’re producing just one page, one blog post, or one sketch a week, you expect it to be pretty darned good, and you start to fret about quality.

Frequency makes starting easier. Getting started is always a challenge. It’s hard to start a project from scratch, and it’s also hard each time you re-enter a project after a break. By working every day, you keep your momentum going.

If you’re feeling frustrated with your progress toward your goals, it’s tempting to focus on what you lack that other people seem to have, to obsess over followers, engagement, traffic, or any other benchmark. The reality is that numbers don’t necessarily measure success, and they’re certainly not a requirement for fulfillment.

If you want to create something worthwhile with your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions.

it’s true that frequency doesn’t have to be a daily frequency; what’s most important is consistency. The more widely spaced your work times, however, the less you reap all of these benefits.

Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions—to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.

No one likes the feeling that other people are waiting— impatiently—for a response. At the beginning of the day, faced with an overflowing inbox, an array of voice mail messages, and the list of next steps from your last meeting, it’s tempting to “clear the decks” before starting your own work . When you’re up-to-date, you tell yourself, it will be easier to focus.

The trouble with this approach is it means spending the best part of the day on other people’s priorities.

Our current relationship with technology is fraught. We feel overwhelmed and out of control. We dream of declaring “e-mail bankruptcy” or maybe “going off the grid.” But we are also addicted and entranced—constantly logging on to share our every thought, image, and idea. It’s easy to blame the tools, but the real problem is us. Rather than demonizing new technologies unnecessarily or championing them blindly, we must begin to develop a subtler sensibility. We

The basic combination of these three things: (1) that the world around us tries to tempt us; (2) that we listen to the world around us (e.g., choice architecture); and (3) that we don’t deal very well with temptation… if you put all of those things together, you have a recipe for disaster. So

There’s a wonderful story about a Nobel Prize winner…He was asked by some corporation to talk about time planning. He gets up in front of the group with a glass jar, and he says, “All I can tell you about time planning, I can show you in two minutes.” Then he takes out a bunch of big stones and puts them into the jar, filling it up to the top, then he takes out a pocketful of tiny stones and puts them in, then he pours some sand in, and then finally he pours some water into the jar—and that’s how it all fits.

Through our constant connectivity to each other, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us.

Today’s challenge is to keep your focus and preserve the sanctity of mind required to create, and to ultimately make an impact in what matters most to you. This can only happen when you capitalize on the here and now. To do this, alternate periods of connectedness with periods of truly being present:

Treat your work as a refuge—an oasis of control and creative satisfaction in the midst of the bad stuff. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not on fire creatively every day—give yourself credit if you show up for work and make even a small amount of progress. When you put down your tools for the day, you may even see your personal situation with a fresh eye. POVERTY

waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train.

We have become so trusting of technology that we have lost faith in ourselves and our born instincts. There are still parts of life that we do not need to “better” with technology. It’s important to understand that you are smarter than your smartphone. To paraphrase, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your Google. Mistakes are a part of life and often the path to profound new insights—so why try to remove them completely? Getting lost while driving or visiting a new city used to be an adventure and a good story. Now we just follow the GPS.

we must learn to be creative amidst chaos. POSITIVE

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.

What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

What is a professional, anyway? A professional is someone who can keep working at a high level of effort and ethics, no matter what is going on—for good or ill—around him or inside him. A professional shows up every day. A professional plays hurt. A professional takes neither success nor failure personally.

With one eye on our gadgets, we’re unable to give our full attention to who and what is in front of us—meaning that we miss out on the details of our lives, ironically, while responding to our fear of missing out.

Yet there wasn’t a single day when I sat down to write an article, blog post, or book chapter without a string of people waiting for me to get back to them. It