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Last Updated on October 12, 2017

“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

Keeping up with a constant onslaught of notifications and texts is exhausting. We live in an age in which our phones have the same functionality as our computers. People can reach out to us 24/7.

The constant disruptions are overwhelming. Even when I am able to put aside email and turn off my notifications, I still get distracted. Looking up a piece of information can result in a 45-minute trip down the internet rabbit hole. Sitting still and staying focused for even ten minutes can seem like a Herculean feat. It can be hard to concentrate and consume meaningful content when we have so much content at our fingertips.

Not only does this constant wave of distraction feel terrible–it’s bad for us. When our attention becomes divided by the busy online world, we have trouble forming memories and thinking deeply.[1] We’re actually reprogramming our brains to perform on a shallow level by jumping from notification to notification.

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It’s time to unplug

Even though we live in a world in which you’re more likely to see people staring at their cellphones than interacting with one another, it’s possible to read offline. There’s no law that says that you must frantically scroll through social media when you’re waiting for your friends, standing in line at the grocery store, or hanging out at the bus stop.

Before smartphones became popular, we used to live offline most of the time. It’s still possible to do this–even with technology in our pockets. Many apps that you love already include offline functions so that you don’t have to use data or be connected to Wifi.

If you need further proof that reading from sites offline is the way to go, check out Chris Bolin’s Offline Only page. A friend sent the link to me, and I was immediately intrigued. When you go to the site, you’ll see the screen below.

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    It’s worth taking a look at what Mr. Bolin has to say about reading offline. The post will take you about two minutes to read, but it can transform your relationship with the internet. You can use this site to make unplugging a habit instead of just a novelty.

    Going offline promotes inner peace

    I didn’t realize how frazzled I felt all the time until Offline Only forced me to disconnect. For two solid minutes, I was focused on the words in front of me. I didn’t nervously click to other tabs or jump to notifications. I simply took in the words and felt my mind relax.

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    Being forced to unplug helped me connect to the present moment. This brief window of mindfulness helped me recognize that I needed to change the way I interacted with the internet.

    It was so satisfying to be able to step away from all the static of modern life and allow myself commit my attention fully to one thing. We are all capable of doing this. Even those of us who stay online for work can benefit from stepping away from the internet once in a while.

    Use the concept of going offline in other aspects of your life

    Unplugging from technology can radically change the way that you experience life. When you make the conscious choice to silence your phone and stop answering emails after hours, you give yourself the gift of the present.

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    I’ll admit that I get frustrated when I see a group of friends or a family at lunch together spending more time looking at their phones than talking to each other. Whenever you allow a notification to disrupt an in-person conversation, you send the other person the message that the notification is more important than they are. You miss out on the possibilities that come with being in the moment.

    Our personal relationships and our work benefit from taking time away from the internet. The more often you use sites like Offline Only to practice focus, the more you strengthen neural pathways in your brain related to concentration. You can undo the damage of years of mindless internet-surfing by adjusting to a lifestyle which revolves more around the quality of your attention than the quantity of items you view online in a day.

    Every distraction costs you time that you can’t get back

    A recent study found that the average worker gets interrupted once every three minutes and five seconds. A person can lose an astonishing 6.2 hours of productivity to the process of being interrupted, working to refocus, correcting errors from disruptions, and battling exhaustion from being so distracted.[2] Many of these disruptions are likely the result of unnecessary notifications that you can easily switch off.

    Don’t squander the here and now through mindless scrolling. Practice focusing every day. Build the habit of being mindful and unplugging with Offline Only, and you’ll be amazed at how much your work and relationships will improve.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Brian Lee

    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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    Published on July 17, 2018

    How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

    How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

    I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

    You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

    But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

    What is compartmentalization

    To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

    In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

    However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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    Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

    Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

    The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

    Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

    Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

    How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

    The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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    Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

    My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

    Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

    Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

    One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

    If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

    The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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    Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

    This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

    If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

    Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

    Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

    Reframe the problem as a question

    Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

    One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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    For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

    Choose one thing to focus on

    To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

    Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

    Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

    Comparmentalization saves you stress

    Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

    This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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