First things first! Start with your most important task! Eat that frog!
All of this is good, sound advice for what to do at the start of a workday. Why would you want to postpone your most important work in favour of trivial tasks?
But it’s not as easy as it used to be. Five years ago, for most people, starting work involved traveling to a physical location and firing up some form of PC or laptop. Now, though, the device that some people use for their alarm clock can also give them instant access to their email and a bunch of other fascinating applications and platforms that give them updates, more updates, and even more updates.
I’m not fully versed in the brain science behind the cognitive disruption caused by email or a Twitter feed but at the very least, it’s distracting to our work and can set us on a different course. And, yes, it feeds the resistance.
Seth Godin called this out last week. It hit me like a slap in the face. In my mind, I was still doing the first thing first (well most days at any rate) but I realised I had let the allure of the update to flood my world before work began. Todd Henry calls it the ping – the idea that there’s always something more interesting out there than we’re working on right here.
I need to stop surrendering to the ping. I want to stop surrendering to the ping.
Of course, the chatter in my mind began to fight back: Isn’t that awfully late to be checking in to see if there are ‘important’ messages? So, you have to wait until you get to your office (a 20-min commute) to begin your first piece of work? What about all that downtime? You’re not participating in the conversation!
It seems a lot of people have been hooked. I was fascinated to observe in this piece about getting up early just how many people get up at ungodly hours and yet the first thing they do is check their email!
So, how will I break the cycle of addiction, or perhaps more accurately, with what am I going to replace the habit?
I would love to do more writing. I always feel that I’m only capturing a tiny fraction of the learning I’m picking up from the Smarter Egg work itself and also from the running and the growth of the business. So, that’s the replacement habit. A piece of writing, to be published on the blog, every morning before I ‘check in’.
Various theories on habit-forming suggest you need to commit to a 21 or 28 or 30 day plan. I’m going to commit to 21 consecutive workdays (weekends are off limits).
Oh, and by the way, this was written on Day 1. I resisted the lure of the ping. And it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I feared.