Wild Card, Working Smarter

It started exactly 12 months ago, right after SNAP Selling came out. At first I didn't recognize the symptoms, but in retrospect, they were there. I was crazy-busy, running from one "must do" activity to the next. My inbox overflowed. I was constantly online, answering emails, tweeting, blogging, whatever.

sales productivity

Time evaporated before my eyes. At the end of the day, my endless To Do list was even longer. I'd accomplished virtually nothing, yet I'd worked the entire day.

Awash in this swirl of scattered activities, my primary goal was to stay afloat.

On my daily walks, I listened to podcasts and interviews. In the evenings, I plopped in front of the TV, surrounded by my computer, iPhone and iPad. Never disconnected, constantly consuming an endless supply of media.

Then I got hooked on a few computer games. These mindless diversions, my guilty little pleasures, filled up what was left of my free time. Hah! Did I say free time? There was none.

Clearly, this was no way to live. It was an existence, not a life. But things were really much worse.

I was actually losing my mind.

Please don't think I'm crazy. The truth is, if what I described sounds even remotely similar to your life, you're losing your mind too.

It's actually a function of our constant online flitting. There's a ton of research now showing that the internet is actually changing our brain. In short, we're losing our ability to:

  • Concentrate: The more we're online, the more scatterbrained we become. We scan, but don't think - and certainly not deeply. And, we're forgetful. Yet we crave more stimuli and keep clicking away.
  • Create: When we're caught in this morass, we can't come up with new ideas and rich insights. With our brains on overload, they're stuck at a low-level of processing.

I felt all of this. I was spinning in place, going nowhere in a constantly distracted state. I even tried to be more productive, but that didn't work either.

Then I finally got away from it all - to a place where I couldn't be reached by phone and had minimal internet access. At first, I was twitchy. Really twitchy. (Going through withdrawal is tough.)

Amazingly, within two days my brain started coming back.

Creative thoughts popped into my mind. Fun ideas emerged. Fresh perspectives surfaced. I wrote everything down so I wouldn't forget - and also to free up my brain to do more important things.

And, since I like how I'm feeling a whole lot more now than I did before, here's the commitment I made to myself:

  • I will limit my internet time to 3 hours per day. I refuse to let the internet destroy my creativity and problem-solving capacity.
  • I will be unreachable for at least one hour daily. To do my job effectively, I need to think. I can't think when I don't protect my time.
  • I will always have one fun project I'm working on. That's what keeps me alive.
  • I will stay focused on the activity I'm on. This may be the hardest of all since I'm so used to allowing distractions. I can't tell you how many urges I fought off while writing this article.

Maybe you haven't lost your mind yet. If that's the case, make sure you protect it at all costs.

But if you're at all like me, your brain has already been severely impacted. I urge you to consider reclaiming it. The truth is, it's the key to your personal and professional success.

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