Page 1

1002.7 1013.2 1044.8 1075.5 1103.3 1220.9 1305.1 1589.7 1935.6 2011.9 2319.8 2507.4 2609.3 2721.4 2869.3 3012.4 3144.6 3409.5 3716.2 3901.6 4153.2 4205.3 4608.5 4911.7 4963.8 5016.3 5132.4 5340.2 5716.8 5891.3 5910.4 6120.3 6235.1 6451.0 6781.3 6837.2 6974.5 7013.2 7164.3 7890.1 7452.8 7634.5 7712.9 7803.6 7913.2 8000.3 8114.9 8735.2 8945.3 8950.7 9041.5 9134.6 9246.9 9456.3 9513.4 9781.6 9794.5 9863.1 9904.3

one ye ar

10,000

hours to the mastermind in you

three ye ars

five ye ars

se ven ye ars

Reaching full potential

in an age of distraction

Thoughts Paper Thoughts on [ BLOCKER BLOCKER ]] Paper from the Think Think on onPaper Paperseries series vfrom nine ye ars

of promotions fromLake LakePaper Paper promotions from


10,000 hours

to the mastermind in you

5


DEDICATION This book is dedicated to Jared Goralnick, Dan Byler & the AwayFind team, who so patiently put up with my learning to focus this semester.

ACKNOW LEDGMENTS Special thanks to Ariel Grey at the Academy of Art University and the Type 3/4 Boot Camp Thursday night section. The path to good design is filled with vanilla ice cream & tuna fish.

Published by Kompendium of K Press 69 Kissling Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Š 2012 Kompendium of K Press All rights reserved Printed and bound in the United States of America 11 1 First Edition No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher, except in context of reviews. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions. Library of Congress Cataloguing-In-Publication Data 10,000 hours to the Mastermind in You / designed & edited by Kristen Youngman p.cm. - (Design Briefs) Includes bibliographic references and index.

ISBN 000-000-000 1. Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Book design, book reference.


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7


Maybe I should just check my email again...

W H AT THIS BOOK IS NOT: It is not a book about helping you find your passion in life. There are enough self-help books that have researched the full psychology of identifying passions in the individual. We are assuming you already know your passion. It is not a book about dealing with information overload. We will not explore in detail how this came to be and how fix this global issue, in corporations or even training individuals how to work better with information to alleviate profuse amount of data spinning around the world each day.

W H AT THIS BOOK IS: This is a book that outlines how you can reach your full potential by understanding how technology has changed how we function on a daily basis and how to practically tackle the daily barriers created so you are able to stay on your path to becoming a genuis. You can do it. It’s not something you must be born with. But it’s no easy feat either. This book will arm you so you can manuever today’s landscape. If you are serious, then hang on — it’s going to be a long, but incredibly gratifying journey. And Blocker paper will do it’s best to help block out all that extraneous noise along the way.


table of

contents 7

chapter

1

MASTERMINDS:

21

chapter

2

IN OVERLOAD:

37

chapter

3

FINDING FOCUS:

Genes or Persistence?

Can you focus?

Block & Unplug 9


Teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything and he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. — THOMAS EDISON Turned down by the deco recording company who said , “we don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” — THE BEATLES Failed solider, farmer and real estate agent, at 38 years old he went to work for his father as a handy man. — ULYSSES S. GRANT

Cut from the high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried. — MICHAEL JORDAN Dismissed from drama school with a note that read, “wasting her time, she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.” ­— LUCILLE BALL

Fired from a newspaper because he lacked imagination and had no original ideas. — WALT DISNEY

Financé died, failed in business twice, had a nervous breakdown and was defeated in 8 elections. — ABRAHAM LINCOLN


successful masters:

1

Genes or Persistence?

11


Genius is misunderstood as a bolt of lightning—Genius is the act of solving a problem in a way no one has solved it before. It has nothing to do with winning a Nobel prize in physics or certain levels of schooling. It’s about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter. Genius is actually the eventual public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem. Sometimes we fail in public, often we fail in private, but people who are doing creative work are constantly failing. Some experts and authors studying achievement are finding that mastery of any skill or subject be learned by anyone—anyone—who puts their mind to it and works hard to achieve it. The bottom line is that genius is the result of lots of hard work, and not just the fortune of having the right match-up of genes. David Shenk says that everyone, regardless of genetic makeup or background, has the potential to excel at a chosen field. In his new book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, he argues that we have before us not a “talent scarcity” but a “latent talent abundance. “The vast majority of us have not even come close to tapping what scientists call our ‘un­a ctualized potential.’ ” As Shenk reveals, science is revealing the attainment of “genius” to be the product of highly concentrated effort. A passage describes the work of the psychologist Anders Ericsson, who wondered if he could train an ordinary person to perform extraordinary feats of memory: “When Eric­sson began working with a young man, his subject could, like most of us, hold only seven numbers in his short-term memory. By the end of the study, he could correctly recall an astonishing 80-plus digits. With the right kind of mental discipline, Ericsson concluded, ‘there is seemingly no limit to memory performance.’” Shenk also cites some of history’s great achievers—Ted Williams and Michael Jordan, Mozart and Beethoven—as examples who worked hard day and night to master their chosen fields. Malcolm Gladwell also agrees with this notion. In his recent work, Outliers, he looked at people who rose above the rest and achieved incredible success in their respective endeavors. Birth date, —even the time of year you are born—seem to weigh in on your success prospects in a given field. But an interesting point Gladwell makes is that all people successful in their respective fields all have one thing in common: they have spent at least 10,000 hours learning, internalizing, and perfecting their crafts. That applies to all the top artists, musicians, writers, and IT leaders. They all spent at least 10,000 hours or more doing what they do. Shenk concurs, saying “You will have to adopt a particular lifestyle of ambition, not just for a few weeks or months but for years and years and years. You’re not only ready to fail, but actually want to experience failure: revel in it, learn from it.” Failure is an important element of any success story. The years of relentless practice result in incredible learning and relearning of what works and doesn’t work. That, apparently gets you much farther in the world than a pair of good genes.


That message —

“you can do anything you set your mind to” — is backed by science.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band & The Beatles [White Album} is released (arguably their greatest achievements)

13


Mozart composed for 20 years before his compositions were any good.

concentration is the secret of strength

—­Ralph Waldo Emerson


masters of

creation

Before they had their first burst of success in 1964, the Beatles had performed live 1200 times together.

Annie Lebovitz worked for Rolling Stones for 10 years before she was able to branch out on her own.

Angelina Jolie commited to acting at 16.

15


Let’s look at what happens with the mental framework when

Often what the novice thinks is important and initially focuses

someone completely focuses on their specialty. A mental frame-

on has been determined by the expert or the genius, through

work is your mental structure that organizes your thinking

deliberate thought, to be unimportant or the wrong thing

in a given domain of knowledge. View this as mental scaffold-

to focus on. How many times have you heard a novice ask an

ing constructed from your connections or associations among

expert something, and the expert replies, “You’re asking the

related concepts, and a foundation on which you can develop

wrong question”? This is because the novice isn’t seeing the big

more advanced ideas. You can find genius everywhere. We

picture and is focused on the wrong thing. So as a novice, your

talk about musical geniuses, artistic geniuses, philosophical

primary goal should be focusing on discovering the most impor-

geniuses. But if you’re not passionate about something, you

tant things to focus on. Playing a sport like tennis or a musical

won’t focus on it or spend the time it takes pondering it to

instrument like the cello requires taking time to develop physi-

build up the mental framework to develop any truly unique

cal abilities in addition to the mental ones. Finding time to make

insights. And just because you’re a genius in one domain that

the extended physical commitment can be hard, but everyone

doesn’t mean that you’re a genius in every domain. If you’re a

has access to their mind 24 hours a day. Keep a few problems

computer genius, it doesn’t mean you’re also a tennis genius or

or concepts in the back of your mind that you’re interested

a musical genius. Unless you spend time focusing on something,

in, and in your daily life continually try to see if you can find

you won’t develop the requisite mental framework needed to

things that relate to them. This will help you generalize the con-

get to these rare and valuable perspectives. Visualize the men-

cepts and see the bigger picture as it can relate to the world in

tal framework as your brain organizing its knowledge into

a broader sense. And then start blocking out the time. You need

spheres. As mental connections or associations that you make

to reach 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to what you want

between different concepts take shape it is easier for the brain

to succeed in. You can ‘t just put in hours though. They need to

to navigate and create a more solid understanding. As you make

be deliberate hours of practice, dedicated to improvement the

more connections and explore ideas further and further, the

entire time. You can’t just be going through the motions.

spheres become more defined and the closer together the connection points become. As your your framework gets tighter and the connection points move closer together, a clearer image of the big picture starts to emerge. Seeing new connections will be easier, and you’ll start to see more connections that interconnect different domains, rather than just primarily noticing connections within your domain of expertise.


0

1,000

2,000

3,000

4,000

5,000

6,000

7,000

8,000

9,000 As hours of deliberate practice spent focusing on improving increase, your

10,000

mental picture solidifies.

17


masters of the

game

Because his father introduced him to golf at 18 months,Woods had been focusing on golf for at least 15 years by the time he became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, at age 18

Bobby Fischer was the youngest person ever to win the World Championship in Chess at age 14. He started playing chess at age 6.


In his early years of training, his mother and brothers restricted contact to him so his basketball career wouldn’t get derailed.

You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.

—­Henry David Thoreau

19


All people successful in their respective fields have all spent at least

10,000 hours

of intense focus: learning, internalizing, and perfecting their crafts.

21


“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” — Steve Jobs

masters of

innovation

Kevin Systrom, Founder of Instagram decided to just focus on photos, and was able to sell his comany for billions to Facebook.

Coco Chanel hated being called a genius because it implied luck. She had been sewing and working hard since she was 12.


It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer —­ Albert Einstein

Madame Curie studied Physics and Chemistry for 10 years before she won the Nobel Prize for her work with Radium.

23


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83

in overload:

Can you focus?

25


Biologically Hard Wired To Seek Out New Information

we are infovores

NYTimes: Tsnami hits t

[ New Msg fr: An

The Problem: Too much information, not enough time. Herman Simon, a Nobel Prize winning economist, once observed that

“what information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of informa-

tion creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” As Dr. Irving Biederman explained to the Wall Street Journal, our brains are wired such that new information gives us a small natural high: “Coming across new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom. It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those.” One of the most pervasive problems I’ve found with people like myself who enjoy self improvement is we love information. We cannot get enough of it. With RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and in my case Google Reader, there is never a shortage of things to read. I read a fascinating article about this in the Wall Street Journal, Why We’re Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data, that states the following: “For most of human history, there

University for the Fut Oil Crisis solution

[So on SportsCenter:

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was little chance of overdosing on information, because any one day in the Olduvai Gorge was a lot like any other. Today, though, we can find in the course of a few hours online more information than our ancient ancestors could in their whole lives.” No matter how fast you read, there’s always going to be more content out there than you can possibly digest. What is important is figuring out what information you need for your talent and not get

[ Txt: Di

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caught in the rest of the goodies luring your attention away. But as we evolve in this new technological environment, most don’t take the time to assess what they should be consuming. Instead they try to consume it all and they think multi-tasking is the answer. They probably even think they are good at it. The problem today is that it is getting harder and harder to focus. We live in an age where information is readily available in such vast quantities and all the devices that act as the portals constantly vie for our attention. We can know within minutes of a tsunami happening across the globe, the status of warring countries, and what Kim Kardashian wore today and ate for breakfast. DILEMMA: we love information + we have access to an insatiable amount (to the point where we are overloaded) and our devices constantly interrupt us. So what has happened? We’ve started multitasking to make up for it. Each of these devices, whether it be a computer, mobile phone, or tablet have their own pens and our old brains are just simply trained to respond. We

ngie ]

ture:

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built in features to constantly notify us when anything new hapdon’t realize the damage these small interruptions have on our overall ability to focus, nor the mental real estate they are taking up. Let’s consider how we got here.

Information Overload is when you are trying to deal with more information than you are able to process to make sensible decisions. The result is either that you either delay making decisions, or that you make the wrong decisions. It is now commonplace to be getting too many e-mails, reports and incoming messages to deal with them effectively. The first recorded use of the phrase “information overload” was used by the futurologist Alvin

omeone posted n your wall ]

Toffler in 1970, when he predicted that the rapidly increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause people problems. Although people talk about “living in the information age,” written information has been used for thousands of years. The invention of the Printing Press a few hundred years ago made it possible to distribute written information to large amounts of people. However, it is only with the advent of modern computers that the ability to create, duplicate and access vast amounts of information has created Information Overload amongst the general population. The root of the problem is that, although computer processing and memory is increasing all the

eries! Brain Scientists Announce

time, the humans that must use the information are not getting any faster. Effectively, the human mind acts as a bottleneck in the process of how much information it can take in. Information Overload is an increasing problem both in the workplace, and in life in general. Those that learn to deal with it effectively will have a major advantage in the next few years.

Focus to be the Key to Success

id you see her?! ] 27


The trouble is

our brains haven’t had time to evolve.


So our solution we tell ourselves is:

“I’m multi-tasking.”

29


B

The Brain Strain of Multi-tasking

How quickly can you call out the color of each word?

BLU

If you want to feel a hint of the stress and energy expended in task-足s witching, try the Stroop Test. In this test, pictured at the right, you need to ignore what the letters say, and instead quickly call out the color of the letters each word is written in. For each word, you have to switch from word-足reading mode to color-足identifying mode, and this is both inefficient and taxing.

RED

R BLUE

BLUE

GREEN

YELLOW

GREEN RED LUE

BLUE BLUE RED

GREEN

RED

BLUE


ORANGE RED GREE BLUE GREEN GREEN BLUE RED RED RED BLUE GREEN BLUE YELL GREEN RED RED BLUE BLUE BLUE RED UE GREEN BLUE RED YELLOW GREEN RED BLUE BLUE RED GREEN GREEN RED GREEN GREEN BLUE RED RED GREEN BLUE BLUE GREEN GREEN GREEN RED BLUE BLU GREEN GREEN RED BLUE RED RED RED GREEN

31


ED We don’t even notice it happening.

Multi-tasking minds

ED

“now where was I...?”

“Right this way, folks!” shouts the carnival barker.

pen at the same time. We can switch between them, but again,

“REDUCE YOUR BRAIN POWER WHILE INCREAS-

we’re hurting both processes as we do that. All the reading and

ING YOUR STRESS LEVELS!” Are you tempted to

consumption of information we do, all the communicating we

follow him? Of course not. And yet, if you spend

do, and all the switching between modes we do—it all takes away

a lot of time multitasking, you’re achieving the

from the time we have to create. We should note that commu-

same result. Many people think they can multi-task. It’s true

nicating and consuming information aren’t necessarily evil to

that you can walk and chew gum at the same time, but the rea-

the person who creates: they actually help. We shouldn’t throw

son is that these two tasks don’t require your attention. Tasks

them out completely. Communicating with others allows us to

that involve language processing or decision making need your

collaborate, and that actually multiplies our creative power, in

attentional focus, and when you try to do two such tasks at the

my experience. When you communicate and collaborate, you

same time, you end up switching your attention back and forth.

bounce ideas off people, get ideas from things they say, learn

One reason multitasking (or task-­s witching) is so hard is that it

from each other, combine ideas in new and exciting ways, build

calls upon working memory—a brain resource that’s extremely

things that couldn’t be possible from one person. When you con-

limited. Every time you switch to the other task, it’s hard to hold

sume information, you’re helping your creativity as well—you

that first task in memory so it’s there when you come back. If

find inspiration in what others have done, get ideas and gather

it’s not there, you lose your train of thought. Constantly answer-

the raw materials for creating. But consuming and communicat-

ing the question, “Now where was I?” is a big waste of time and

ing aren’t creating. They aid creating, they lay the groundwork,

energy. It’s fairly difficult to create when you’re reading a blog

but at some point we need to actually sit down and create. Or

or forum or tweeting or sending an email or chatting. In fact,

stand up and create. But create.

LUE

it’s almost impossible to do these things and create at the same time. Sure, you can switch back and forth, so that you’re creating and engaging in any of these activities of consuming and communicating. We’ve all done that. But how effective is that? When we switch between creating and communicating through email, say, we lose a little bit of our creative time, a little bit of our creative attention, each time we switch. Our mind must switch between modes, and that takes time. As a result, our creative processes are slowed and hurt, just a little, each time we switch. Here’s the catch: creating is a completely separate process from consuming and communicating. They don’t hap-


e

[

Multi-tasking or task-switching? Your brain is only one muscle. Your hand cannot write and play an instrument at the same time, just as your brain cannot focus on more than one thing. Switching back and forth, more errors occur because you constantly lose your train of thought.

] 33


Interruptions mess with our ability to focus

The more interruptions we have, the less likely we are able to reach flow.


People lose a lot of time (over two hours every day!) from interruptions. Much of that time is lost from switching tasks and getting back on track. It turns out that technology has made multitasking especially possible, but people are pretty terrible at it. If you’ve had four IM windows blinking while attempting

[ Txt: Coffee Break? ] to put creative thought into a project, you’ve witnessed just how much longer things take with multi-tasking. Not only does it take time to get on track when switching between tasks, it prevents us from ever gaining flow: Flow requires a depth of thinking and a focus of attention that context-switching prevents. Flow requires a challenging use of our knowledge and skills, and that’s quite different from mindless tasks we can multitask (eating and watching TV, etc.). Flow means we need a certain amount of time to load our knowledge and skills into our brain RAM. And the more big or small interruptions we have, the less likely we are to ever get there. And not only are we stopping ourselves from ever getting in flow, we’re stopping ourselves from ever getting really good at something. From becoming experts. “The brain scientists now tell us that becoming an expert is not a matter of being a prodigy, it’s a matter of being able to focus.” notes Kathy Sierra, author of Creating Passionate Users. Rather than multi-task (for instance, reading emails as they arrive but then going back to what we were working on), we need to focus on one thing.

[

The true cost of interruptions and lack of focus is that you prevent yourself from ever really getting good at something.

] 35


It’s worse than you thought.

We are getting dumber

A study out of UCLA illustrates some of what’s lost when you multitask. Participants engaged in some learning trials while single-tasking and other trials while dual-tasking. When they had multi-tasked, the participants could perform the learned behavior, but they were much less able to identify the rules underlying what they were doing. Importantly, brain imaging revealed that different areas of the brain had been active under single-tasked as opposed to multi-tasked learning. Learning while multi-tasking involved implicit processes similar to forming a habit without consciousness of what is being learned. Learning while single‐tasking involved utilizing working memory, and what was learned was more flexible and involved more abstract, generalizable knowledge. To apply these results to another common situation, reading something doesn’t involve just consuming words; to make what you’ve read useful, you must relate the new information to what you already know. Apparently, multi-tasking interferes with this process. So if you swear by multi-tasking and think you can do it as well or better than single-tasking, the research has bad news for you: Multi-tasking hurts in terms of speed, accuracy, quality of output, and energy consumption. Performing two tasks at once, instead of sequentially, multiplies trouble. In essence, when you’re multi-tasking, you’re dimming your bulb, de-powering your brain. You’re so much better off single‐tasking. Unless, of course, low‐power processing is what you’re after. So try singletasking one thing that you usually multi-task. You’ll be amazed at how much more easily and quickly you get it done, and with much better quality than you expected.


all that time invested but you might as well

be subtracting from your 10,000 hours

you haven’t learned a thing

37


39

single-tasking

AWARENESS

RECEPTION

UNDERSTANDING

RETRIEVAL

TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE

APPLICATION

EXPANDING

CREATING

ability

multi-tasking

time

creative flow

UCLA Learning Study

Learning while multitasking is like forming a habit without consciousness of what is being learned

Like computers, our minds need time to load our knowledge before we can use our creative RAM.


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finding focus:

Block & Unplug

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Reminder: Call Michelle 41


X Outsmart Interruptions

new email

So how do we go about disconnecting? Here’s what Leo Babauta

a good building that’s quiet but doesn’t

says about it in his book, Focus. There are varying strategies,

have free wireless. Go to this discon-

and no one is better than another. I won’t be able to tell you what

nected zone ready to create, or perhaps

will work best for you—I suggest you experiment, and find a

just to relax and enjoy the quiet. Get out-

method that fits your needs and situation best. Often that will

ur Order Delayed be a hybrid approach, which is perfectly great—every person is

side. Leave your devices behind and go

different. No cookie-cutter approach will work for everyone, but

nature. Watch a sunset, go to the beach or

here are some ideas: Unplug. Just unplug your network connec-

a lake or river or forest. Take your child

tor or cable, or turn off your wireless router, or go to your con-

or spouse or friend. Recharge your bat-

nections settings and disable temporarily. Close your browser

teries, reflect, and contemplate. Leave

and open another program so you can focus on creating without

your mobile device behind, or shut it off.

distraction. Do this for as long as you can.

When you’re on the go, you don’t always

Have a disconnect time each day. It’s like setting office hours if you’re a professor—you set the times that work best for you, and you can even let people know about these times. Let’s say you are disconnected from 8-10 a.m. each day, or 4-5 p.m., or even anytime after 2 p.m. Tell people your policy, so they know you won’t be available for email or IM. And use this time to create. Work somewhere without a connection. For me, this might be the public library—while it has computers with Internet access,

for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. Enjoy

need to be connected. Sure, the iPhone and Android and Blackberry are cool, but they just feed our addictions, they make the problem worse than ever. If you’re driving, shut off your device. If you’re meeting with someone, turn off the device so you can focus on that person completely. If you’re out with your family or friends and not working … leave the device at home. You don’t need this personal time to be interrupted by work or your impulse to check on things.

there’s no wireless in my library. Some coffeeshops don’t have wireless connection. Some of you might have to look for

web link

X

Use blocking software. If you’re doing

instant message

work on the computer, you can use various types of software to shut yourself off from the Internet, or at least from

the most distracting portions of it. For example, you can use software to block your web email, Twitter, favorite news sites, favorite blogs, and so on—whatever your worst distractions are, you can block them selectively. Or block all Internet browsing. Alternate connection and disconnection. There are any number of variations on this theme, but let’s say you disconnected for


X

20 minutes, then connected for a maximum of 10 minutes, and kept alternating in those intervals. Or you work disconnected for 45 minutes and connect for 15 minutes. You get the idea—it’s almost as if the connected period is a reward for doing good, focused work. Disconnect away from work. A good policy

phone call

is to leave your work behind, when you’re done with work, and a better policy is to stay

facebook update

disconnected during that time, or work and browsing will creep into the rest of your life. Draw a line in the sand, and say, “After 5 p.m. Spending parts of the day disconnected from interruptions

text message

(e.g. switch off e-mail, telephones, Web, etc.) so you can fully concentrate for a significant period of time on one thing.

43


tech self-defense part 1:

DON’T RESPOND


A DDR ESS YOUR FEA R S

>>

We flit from one task to another, one response to another, living

You don’t have to respond

We have developed a fairly urgent need to respond to many things: emails, Tweets and other social network status updates, instant messages, phone calls, text messages, blog posts, blog comments, forum posts, and more. This need to respond gives us anxiety until we’ve responded, but unfortunately, there is a never-ending stream of things that require your response. If we allow these messages to force us to respond, almost as soon as they come, then we become driven by the need to respond. Our day becomes responsive rather than driven by conscious choices. a life driven by the needs of others, instead of what we need, what we feel is important. You don’t need to respond. Think about why we feel we need to respond to everything. Often it’s just a compulsion—we’re so used to answering messages that we have developed an urge to respond. Often it’s also out of fear: fear that people won’t think we’re doing our job, fear that we’ll lose customers, fear that we’ll miss out on something important, fear that people will think we’re rude or ignoring them. But what if we weaned ourselves from this compulsion? And what if we addressed these fears?

1.

First, imagine that you’re free from the compulsion. What would it be like? You’d choose what you’re going to do today, and work on the important things. You could still respond to emails and other things, but it would be because you decided it was important to communicate something, not because someone else sent you a message and you felt compelled to reply. You’d be much less stressed out, because you don’t feel like you need to get through these piles of things to respond to, or worry about people trying to contact you through various channels.

2.

Next, address the fears. Think about what specific fears you have—are you afraid people will think you’re rude? You’ll miss something? You’ll lose customers, or get in trouble at work? Figure out what your fears are—there are probably more than one. Now address them with a tiny test—go without responding, just for a few hours. Did you miss anything? Did someone get offended? If nothing bad happens, extend this test—try half a day, or a full day. In most cases, nothing bad will happen at all. In a few cases, something negative might happen, but it’ll be pretty minor. You’ll realize that your fears are mostly ungrounded.

3.

Finally, start weaning yourself. If you agree that being free of these compulsions would be a better way of living, start moving towards this life. Again, try just a small test—a couple hours every day when you don’t respond to things. Set a time, after this “response-free” block of your day, when you do respond. This way, you’re in control—you decide when to respond. Eventually, you might increase your “response-free” zone to half a day or more, but start small.

45


Many of us are slaves to the news, to the need to keep updated with what’s happening in the world, in our business niche, with our friends. We are information junkies in some way: we watch TV news all the time, or entertainment news, or keep up with lots of blogs, or our RSS feed reader, or Twitter, or Digg or Delicious, or email, or one of the many news aggregator sites. The need to keep up consumes much of our day, and creates a kind of anxiety our minds barely register. What is this need based on? Why can’t we get free of it? Actually, we can get free. I’ve done it in my life, to a large extent. Let’s examine the two questions. What is this need based on? In short: fear. If we really think about it, we’re not gaining much by keeping up with all this information. How is it adding to our lives? How is it helping us to create, to live happy lives, to do what’s most important to us, to spend time with our loved ones? If anything, it takes away from these things. Let me repeat that point: this obsession with keeping up with information takes away from the things that are most important to us. But we try to keep up because we’re afraid: we might miss something important, and seem ignorant; we might miss out on an opportunity; we might not see something bad that we need to respond to; something bad might happen to us if we aren’t informed These fears seem reasonable, until we test them. Then we can see that they’re not really grounded in anything other than societal norms, and a “need” created by media corporations and similar companies. How to break free: 1) examine each fear individually, and 2) test them. When we shine a light on our fears, they lose power. When we test them to see their validity, they will usually fail, and we can overcome them. Review the fears on the next page. The next step is to actually test the fears. Do this by tuning out of the news or whatever information you try to keep up with, for one day. Then see if any of your fears came true. If not, feel free to read the news you want, peruse the websites you follow. Then try a second test of two days — see what happens. Keep repeating this, but extending the test, until you can go a couple weeks without staying up to date. Then see if your fears are true. Testing will show you facts. You’ll see if something bad happens, or if you appear ignorant, or if you miss out on big opportunities. You’ll also see whether you are freer to live the life you want.

tech self-defense part 2:

LET GO


1.

We might seem ignorant. Really? How often do people quiz you on current events, or laugh at you for not knowing? Maybe some times, but even if it does happen, so what? Let others be fueled by this need, and let yourself focus on things you care about, not what issues others may think is important.

2.

We might miss out on an opportunity. Possibly. There are always going to be opportunities we miss. But more likely are the opportunities we’re missing because we’re letting our days be consumed by trying to stay up to date. When we do this, we lose time we could be using to pursue exciting, real opportunities.

<< A DDR ESS YOUR FEA R S

>>

you don’t always need to stay updated

3.

We might not see something bad that we need to respond to. If something really bad is happening, we’ll know. Even if I only pop in once in awhile, and friends and family will always tell me about a storm or economic collapse or something similar. Sure, this is relying on others, but if they’re going to tell us anyway, why worry about keeping up ourselves?

4.

Something bad might happen to us if we aren’t informed. This is highly unlikely. I’ve been uninformed — tuned out from the news and other information I don’t want — for a few years now. Nothing bad has happened to me. Instead, good things have happened because I’m free to create, to focus on what makes me happy.

47


get your space ready

close the Internet and distractions start focusing

donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look at the green dots

become aware of distractions (find solutions for distractions)

refocus & repeat tech self-defense part 3:

SINGLE-TASK We are trained to multi-task. We think we should be doing it all the time but to be efficient in this society we need to learn ways to do the opposite. The brain is a muscle that needs training here.

complete task! move on to the next


Close all other programs except the one you need to work with. Close the Internet and its distractions. If you need it for research, download/gather all the info you need first, then close your browser. Once you’ve cleared away distractions, focus on that task for as long as you can. This takes practice. It doesn’t come easily at first. Try to put your FULL attention on that task. Working on an important task. Plowing through email. Talking on the phone, talking with a coworker. Don’t get distracted by other things and try to do

If you find your attention being pulled

multiple things at once.

somewhere else, become aware of that, and pull yourself back to your task. The awareness is very important. You need to be conscious that you are being pulled away because if you do it without thinking, you can’t correct it. Finding that awareness is the first step. Become pulling

aware of when you become distracted.

yourself back and keep your attention

Set aside time for email, calls, time with

focused on that one task. Until the task is

coworkers or anything other things like

completed. It sounds simple, but it takes

that that you need to do, but will keep you

practice. The more you do it, the better

from completing your task.

Keep

practicing

this.

Keep

you’ll be at it. Once you complete an important task, then Focus on the next important task. Complete that, and so on. That’s what Leo Babauta calls Single-Tasking, and it’s a very important skill. With practice you can get better at focusing on one task at a time. And become more effective less stressed and accomplish more for the long term.

49


Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand.

the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rays do not burn until brought into a focus.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Alexander Graham Bell


And make sure that your

10,000 hours count.

51


53


BIBLIOGR A PHY/SOURCES

CHAPTER 1

Lee Gomes, Why Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re Powerless to Resist Grazing on Endless Web Data; article March 2008, Wall Street Journal Copyright 2012

Seth Godin, Genius is misunderstood as a bolt of lightning;

Dow Jones & Company, Inc. http://online.wsj.com

article February 27, 2010. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ seths_blog/2010/02/genius-is-misunderstood-as-a-bolt-

Joanne Cantor, Ph. D, Mining Your Inner Moron: Why Multitasking Is

of-lighting.html

Such a Waste article. Your Mind on Media: Strategies for Sanity & Success

Joe McKendrick, Want to be a genius? Learn to focus like a laser beam;

[1] Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 Principles for surviving and

article March 28, 2010. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/ business-brains/want-to-be-a-genius-learn-to-focus-like-a-

thriving at work, home, and school. Pear Press. [2] Klingberg, T. (2009). The overflowing brain: Information overload

laser-beam/5776Comments

and the limits of working memory. (Translated by Neil Betteridge). London: Oxford University Press.

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown &

[3] Foerde, K., Knowlton, B., & Poldrack, R. A. (2006). Modulation

Company, New York, NY -copyright 2008

of competing memory systems by distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. www.pnas.org/cgi/

Malcolm Gladwell Explains How Long It Takes To Become A Genius Level Expert In Your Field In His New Book Outliers, http://

doi/10.1073/pnas.0602659103 [4] Cantor, J. (2009). Conquer CyberOverload: Get More Done, Boost

boldapproach.typepad.com/bold/2008/11/malcolm-gladwell-

Your Creativity, and Reduce Stress. Madison, WI: CyberOut-

explains-how-long-it-takes-to-become-a-genius-level-ex-

look Press.

pert-in-your-field-in-his-new-book-outliers.html James Thornton, How to get to Genius, article March 11, 2011. http://jamesthornton.com/blog/how-to-get-to-genius

CHAPTER 3

Joanne Cantor, Ph. D, Making the Most of Your Time and Talents by Decluttering Your Digital Domain; ebook. Your Mind on Media:

Sid Savara, Famous Failures. http://sidsavara.com/personal-develop-

Strategies for Sanity & Success

ment/famous-failures-michael-jordan-abraham-lincoln-andjk-rowling.html

Sid Savara, Will Power: How To Improve Your Personal Self Discipline,

Tech Stress: How Many Emails Can You Handle a Day?; http://abc-

Personal Development Training with Sid Savara. http:// sidsavara.com/personal-development/will-power-how-to-

news.go.com/Technology/tech-stress-emails-handle-day/

improve-your-personal-self-discipline

story?id=11201183#.T2urt4qXTjp Sid Savara, Stop Wasting Time Online: Improve Concentration Online, CHAPTER 2

Personal Development Training with Sid Savara. http://sidsavara.com/personal-development/stop-wasting-time-online-

Understanding Information Overload; http://www.infogineering.net/

improve-concentration-online

understanding-information-overload.htm Š2007-2012 N

Ingebrigtsen.

Leo Babauta, Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction; ebook, http://focusmanifesto.com


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lakepaper • Mangfallstra ße 5 • 83703 Gmund am Tegernsee Fon: +49 (80 22) 75 00-57 • w w w.lakepaper.com

1001.3 1002.7 1013.2 1044.8 1075.5 1103.3 1220.9 1305.1 1589.7 1935.6 2011.9 2319.8 2507.4 2609.3 2721.4 2869.3 3012.4 3144.6 3409.5 3716.2 3901.6 4153.2 4205.3 4608.5 4911.7 4963.8 5016.3 5132.4 5340.2 5716.8 5891.3 5910.4 6120.3 6235.1 6451.0 6781.3 6837.2 6974.5 7013.2 7164.3 7890.1 7452.8 7634.5 7712.9 7803.6 7913.2 8000.3 8114.9 8735.2 8945.3 8950.7 9041.5 9134.6 9246.9 9456.3 9513.4 9781.6 9794.5 9863.1 9904.3 9974.8

Front Cover

one ye ar

Page 6/7

Teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything and he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. — THOMAS EDISON

10,000 hours

Turned down by the deco recording company who said , “we don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”

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to the mastermind in you

three ye ars

— THE BEATLES

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Failed solider, farmer and real estate agent, at 38 years old he went to work for his father as a handy man. — ULYSSES S. GRANT

Cut from the high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried. — MICHAEL JORDAN Dismissed from drama school with a note that read, “wasting her time, she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.”

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five ye ars

— LUCILLE BALL

successful masters:

se ven ye ars

in an age of distraction

Reaching full potential

1

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Genes or Persistence? Fired from a newspaper because he lacked imagination and had no original ideas. — WALT DISNEY Thoughts on [ BLOCKER ] Paper

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nine ye ars

nervous breakdown and was defeated in 8 elections. — ABRAHAM LINCOLN

7

Inside Front Cover

Page 8/9

Genius is misunderstood as a bolt of lightning — Genius is the act of solving a problem in a way no one has solved it before. It has nothing to do with winning a Nobel prize in physics or certain levels of schooling. It’s about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter. Genius is actually

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the eventual public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed

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attempts at solving a problem. Sometimes we fail in public, often we fail in private, but people who are doing creative work are constantly failing. Some experts and authors studying achievement are finding that mastery of any skill or subject be learned by anyone — anyone — who puts their mind to it and works hard to achieve it. The bottom line is that genius is the result of lots of hard work, and not just the fortune of having the right match-up of genes. David Shenk says that everyone, regardless of genetic makeup or background, has the potential to excel at a chosen field. In his new book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, he argues that we have before us not a “talent scarcity” but a “latent

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talent abundance. “The vast majority of us have not even come

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close to tapping what scientists call our ‘un actualized potential.’ ” As Shenk reveals, science is revealing the attainment of “genius” to be the product of highly concentrated effort. A passage describes the work of the psychologist Anders Ericsson,

That message —

who wondered if he could train an ordinary person to perform extraordinary feats of memory: “When Eric sson began working

“you can do anything you set your mind to”

with a young man, his subject could, like most of us, hold only seven numbers in his short-term memory. By the end of the study, he could correctly recall an astonishing 80-plus digits. With the right kind of mental discipline, Ericsson concluded,

— is backed by science.

‘there is seemingly no limit to memory performance.’” Shenk also cites some of history’s great achievers — Ted Williams and Michael Jordan, Mozart and Beethoven — as examples who worked hard day and night to master their chosen fields. Malcolm Gladwell also agrees with this notion. In his recent work, Outliers, he looked at people who rose above the rest and achieved incredible success in their respective endeavors. Birth date, — even the time of year you are born — seem to weigh in on your success prospects in a given field. But an interesting point Gladwell makes is that all people successful in their respective fields all have one thing in common: they have spent at least 10,000 hours learning, internalizing and perfecting their crafts. That applies to all the top artists, musicians, writers, and IT leaders. They all spent at least 10,000 hours or more doing what they do. Shenk concurs, saying “You will have to adopt a particular lifestyle of ambition, not just for a few weeks or months but for years and years and years. You’re not only ready to fail, but actually want to experience failure: revel in it, learn from it.” Failure is an important element of any success story. The years of relentless practice result in incredible learning and relearning of what works and doesn’t work. That, apparently gets you much farther in the world than a pair of good genes.

9

10,000

Before they had their first burst of success in 1964, the Beatles had performed live 1200 times together.

to the mastermind in you

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masters of

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Page 10/11

creation

Title Page

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Mozart composed for 20 years before his compositions were any good.

Annie Lebovitz worked for Rolling Stones for 10 years before she was able to branch out on her own.

concentration is the secret of strength — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Angelina Jolie commited to acting at 16.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band & The Beatles [White Album} is released (arguably their greatest achievements)

1

11

Copyright/Dedication & lakepaper Intro

DEDICATION This book is dedicated to Jared Goralnick, Dan Byler & the AwayFind team, who so patiently put up with my learning to focus this semester.

Page 12/13

0

1,000

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ACKNOW LEDGMENTS

2,000

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Let’s look at what happens with the mental framework when

Often what the novice thinks is important and initially focuses

someone completely focuses on their specialty. A mental frame-

on has been determined by the expert or the genius, through

work is your mental structure that organizes your thinking

Positive growth is our philosophy. At lakepaper, this translates

Published by

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to focus on. How many times have you heard a novice ask an expert something, and the expert replies, “You’re asking the

related concepts, and a foundation on which you can develop

wrong question”? This is because the novice isn’t seeing the big

more advanced ideas. You can find genius everywhere. We

picture and is focused on the wrong thing. So as a novice, your

talk about musical geniuses, artistic geniuses, philosophical

tant things to focus on. Playing a sport like tennis or a musical instrument like the cello requires taking time to develop physi-

build up the mental framework to develop any truly unique

cal abilities in addition to the mental ones. Finding time to make

insights. And just because you’re a genius in one domain that

the extended physical commitment can be hard, but everyone

doesn’t mean that you’re a genius in every domain. If you’re a computer genius, it doesn’t mean you’re also a tennis genius or

or concepts in the back of your mind that you’re interested

a musical genius. Unless you spend time focusing on something,

in, and in your daily life continually try to see if you can find

dynamic company, dedicated to modern application & fine paper.

you won’t develop the requisite mental framework needed to

things that relate to them. This will help you generalize the con-

get to these rare and valuable perspectives.

cepts and see the bigger picture as it can relate to the world in

Visualize the mental framework as your brain organizing its knowledge into spheres. As mental connections or associations that you make between different concepts shape it is easier for

Library of Congress Cataloguing-In-Publication Data

the brain to navigate and create a more solid understanding. As

10,000 hours to the Mastermind in You / designed & edited by Kristen

you make more connections and explore ideas further and fur-

Youngman

6,000

has access to their mind 24 hours a day. Keep a few problems

incredibly opaque. Each page shines without distractions showing through with double-sided printing. Lake Paper is a young,

Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copy-

5,000

primary goal should be focusing on discovering the most impor-

geniuses. But if you’re not passionate about something, you won’t focus on it or spend the time it takes pondering it to

right. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions.

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4,000

deliberate thought, to be unimportant or the wrong thing

in a given domain of knowledge. View this as mental scaffolding constructed from your connections or associations among

7,000

a broader sense. And then start blocking out the time. You need to reach 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to what you want to succeed in. You can ‘t just put in hours though. They need to be deliberate hours of practice, dedicated to improvement the

8,000

entire time. You can’t just be going through the motions.

ther, the spheres become more defined and the closer together the connection points become. As your your framework gets

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tighter and the connections points move closer together, a

Includes bibliographic references and index.

clearer image of the big picture starts to emerge. Seeing new

9,000

connections will be easier, and you’ll start to see more connec-

As hours of deliberate practice spent

tions that interconnect different domains, rather than just priISBN 000-000-000

marily noticing connections within your domain of expertise.

1. Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Book design, book reference.

focusing on improving increase, your

10,000

mental picture solidifies.

3

your passion. It is not a book about dealing with information overload. We will not explore in detail how this came to be and how fix this

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global issue, in corporations or even training individuals how to work better with information to alleviate profuse amount of data spinning around the world each day.

W H AT THIS BOOK IS:

chapter

1

MASTERMINDS:

chapter

2

IN OVERLOAD:

chapter

3

FINDING FOCUS:

This is a book that outlines how you can

Genes or Persistence?

tackle the daily barriers created so you are able to stay on your path to becoming a genuis. You can do it. It’s not something you must be born with. But it’s no easy can manuever today’s landscape. If you are serious, then hang on — it’s going to be a

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Because his father introduced him to golf at 18 months,Woods had been focusing on golf for at least 15 years by the time he became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, at age 18

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reach your full potential by understanding how technology has changed how we function on a daily basis and how to practically

feat either. This book will arm you so you

masters of the

chology of identifying passions in the individual. We are assuming you already know

Page 14/15

game

passion in life. There are enough self-help books that have researched the full psy-

table of

W H AT THIS BOOK IS NOT: It is not a book about helping you find your

Introduction & Contents

contents

Maybe I should just check my email again...

13

Can you focus?

In his early years of training, his mother and brothers restricted contact to him so his basketball career wouldn’t get derailed.

Bobby Fischer was the youngest person ever to win the World Championship in Chess at age 14. He started playing chess at age 6.

long, but incredibly gratifying journey. And Blocker paper will do it’s best to help block out all that extraneous noise along the way.

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You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.

Block & Unplug

— Henry David Thoreau

5

15

55


Page 16/17 Blocker 80 Text Perfect White Pantone 241, 4 color process, spot gloss, smooth finish

All people successful in their respective fields have all spent at least

10,000 hours

of intense focus: learning, internalizing and perfecting their crafts.

17

ORANGE RED GREEN BLUE GREEN GREEN RED BLUE RED RED RED BLUE GREEN BLUE YELLOW GREEN

THE BR AIN STR AIN OF MULTI-TASKING

How quickly can you call out the color of each word?

RED BLUE BLUE GREEN RED RED BLUE RED YELLOW GREEN RED BLUE BLUE RED GREEN GREEN RED BLUE GREEN GREEN BLUE RED RED BLUE GREEN BLUE GREEN GREEN BLUE GREEN GREEN RED GREEN BLUE BLUE BLUE RED GREEN YELLOW BLUE GREEN RED RED BLUE GREEN RED BLUE RED RED RED BLUE RED BLUE GREEN GREEN

BLUE

If you want to feel a hint of the stress and energy expended in

task-‐ switching, try the Stroop Test. In this test, pictured at

RED

BLUE

the right, you need to ignore what the letters say, and instead

quickly call out the color of the letters each word is written in.

For each word, you have to switch from word-‐reading mode to color-‐identifying mode, and this is both inefficient and taxing.

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27

GREEN

Page 18/19 It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” — Steve Jobs

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— Albert Einstein

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innovation

Kevin Systrom, Founder of Instagram decided to just focus on photos, and was able to sell his comany for billions to Facebook.

masters of

Coco Chanel hated being called a genius because it implied luck. She had been sewing and working hard since she was 12.

Page 27/28 Blocker 80 Text Perfect White

WE DON’T EVEN NOTICE IT HAPPENING.

Multi-tasking minds

“now where was I..?” “Right this way, folks!” shouts the carnival barker. “REDUCE

YOUR BRAIN POWER WHILE INCREASING YOUR STRESS LEV-

sumption of information we do, all the communicating we do, and all the switching between modes we do — it all takes away from the time we have to create. We should note that commu-

result. Many people think they can multitask. It’s true that

nicating and consuming information aren’t necessarily evil to

you can walk and chew gum at the same time, but the reason

the person who creates: they actually help. We shouldn’t throw

is that these two tasks don’t require your attention.[1] Tasks

them out completely. Communicating with others allows us to

that involve language processing or decision making need your

collaborate, and that actually multiplies our creative power, in

attentional focus, and when you try to do two such tasks at the

my experience. When you communicate and collaborate, you

same time, you end up switching your attention back and forth.

bounce ideas off people, get ideas from things they say, learn

One reason multitasking (or task-‐switching) is so hard is that it

from each other, combine ideas in new and exciting ways, build

calls upon working memory – a brain resource that’s extremely

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hurting both processes as we do that. All the reading and con-

ELS!” Are you tempted to follow him? Of course not. And yet, if

you spend a lot of time multitasking, you’re achieving the same

things that couldn’t be possible from one person. When you

limited. Every time you switch to the other task, it’s hard to hold

consume information, you’re helping your creativity as well

that first task in memory so it’s there when you come back. If it’s

— you find inspiration in what others have done, you get ideas,

not there, you lose your train of thought. Constantly answer-

you gather the raw materials for creating. But consuming and

ing the question, “now where was I?” is a big waste of time and

communicating aren’t creating. They aid creating, they lay the

energy. It’s fairly difficult to create when you’re reading a blog

groundwork, but at some point we need to actually sit down and

or forum or tweeting or sending an email or chatting. In fact,

create. Or stand up and create. But create.

it’s almost impossible to do these things and create at the same time. Sure, you can switch back and forth, so that you’re creat-

[

ing and engaging in any of these activities of consuming and communicating. We’ve all done that. But how effective is that? When we switch between creating and communicating through email, say, we lose a little bit of our creative time, a little bit of our creative attention, each time we switch. Our mind must

Madame Curie studied Physics and Chemistry for 10 years before she won the Nobel Prize for her work with Radium.

switch between modes, and that takes time. As a result, our creative processes are slowed and hurt, just a little, each time we switch. Here’s the catch: creating is a completely separate process from consuming and communicating. They don’t happen at the same time. We can switch between them, but again, we’re

]

Multi-tasking or task-switching? Your brain is only one muscle. Your hand cannont write and play an instrument at the same time, just as your brain cannot focus on more than one thing. Switching back and forth more errors occur because you constantly lose your train of thought.

19

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29

People lose a lot of time (over two hours every day!) from interruptions. Much of that time is lost from switching tasks and getting back on track. It turns out that technology has made multitasking especially possible, but people are pretty terrible at it. If you’ve had four IM windows blinking while attempting to put

[ Txt: Coffee Break? ] longer things take with multitasking. Not only does it take time

mess with our

to get on track when switching between tasks, it prevents us

from ever gaining flow: Flow requires a depth of thinking and

a focus of attention that all that context-switching prevents. Flow requires a challenging use of our knowledge and skills, and that’s quite different from mindless tasks we can multitask (eating and watching TV, etc.). Flow means we need a certain amount of time to load our knowledge and skills into our brain RAM. And the more big or small interruptions we have, the less likely we are to ever get there. And not only are we stopping ourselves from ever getting in flow, we’re stopping ourselves from ever getting really good at

igy, it’s a matter of being able to focus.Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users. Additional references within this quote are listed in the “Works Cited.” Rather than multitask (for instance, reading emails as they arrive but then going back to what we were working on), we need to focus on one thing. The more interruptions we have, the less likely we are able

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something. From becoming experts. The brain scientists now

[

to reach flow.

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creative thought into a project, you’ve witnessed just how much

Interruptions ability to focus

tell us that becoming an expert is not a matter of being a prod-

Can you focus?

Reminder: Dr. Appt Tues@ 3pm

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The true cost of interruptions and lack of focus is that you prevent yourself from ever really getting good at something.

21

Email count: NYTimes: 528 Tsnami hits the Gulf

] 31

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as we evolve in this new technological environment, most don’t take the time to assess what they should be consuming. Instead they try to consume it all and they think multi-tasking is the

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answer. They probably even think they are good at it. The problem today is that it is getting harder and harder to focus. We live in an age where information is readily available in such

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vast quantities and all the devices that act as the portals constantly vie for our attention. We can know within minutes of a tsunami happening across the globe, the status of warring countries, and what Kim Kardashian wore today and ate for breakfast. DILEMMA: we love information + we have access to an insa-

BIOLOGICALLY HARD WIRED TO SEEK OUT NEW INFORMATION

tiable amount (to the point where we are overloaded) and our

we are infovores

devices constantly interrupt us. So what has happened? We’ve started multitasking to make up for it. Each of these devices, whether it be a computer, mobile phone, tablet, or have their own

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IT’S WORSE THAN YOU THOUGHT.

We are getting dumber

built in features to constantly notify us when anything new hap-

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pens and our old brains are just simply trained to respond. We don’t realize the damage these small interruptions have on our

caught in the rest of the goodies luring your attention away. But

created Information Overload amongst the general population.

being learned. Learning while single‐tasking involved utiliz-

The root of the problem is that, although computer processing

ing working memory, and what was learned was more flexible and involved more abstract, generalizable knowledge. To apply

use the information are not getting any faster. Effectively, the

these results to another common situation, reading something

human mind acts as a bottleneck in the process of how much

doesn’t involve just consuming words; to make what you’ve read

information it can take in. Information Overload is an increas-

useful, you must relate the new information to what you already

ing problem both in the workplace, and in life in general. Those

know. Apparently, multitasking interferes with this process.

that learn to deal with it effectively will have a major advantage

So if you swear by multitasking and think you can do it as well

in the next few years. Information Overload is when you are try-

or better than single‐tasking, the research has bad news for

ing to deal with more information than you are able to process

you: Multitasking hurts in terms of speed, accuracy, quality

to make sensible decisions. The result is either that you either

of output, and energy consumption.[4] Performing two tasks

delay making decisions, or that you make the wrong decisions. It

at once, instead of sequentially, multiplies trouble. In essence,

is now commonplace to be getting too many e-mails, reports and

when you’re multitasking, you’re dimming your bulb, de‐power-

incoming messages to deal with them effectively.

ing your brain. You’re so much better off single‐tasking. Unless,

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all that time invested but you might as well

of course, low‐power processing is what you’re after. So try

[ Txt: Did you see her?! ]

single-tasking one thing that you usually multitask. You’ll be

be subtracting from your 10,000 hours

amazed at how much more easily and quickly you get it done,

you haven’t learned a thing

and with much better quality than you expected. You may even be tempted to try it again.

23

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The trouble is

our brains haven’t had time to evolve.

creative flow

UCLA LEARNING STUDY

Like computers, our minds need time to load our knowledge before we can use our creative RAM.

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So our solution we tell ourselves is:

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ABILITY

35

e flow

25

CREATING

multi-tasking

“I’m multi-tasking.”

single-tasking

there than you can possibly digest. What is important is figuring out what information you need to for your talent and not get

active under single-tasked as opposed to multitasked learning. Learning while multitasking involved implicit processes

Focus to be the key to Success

we can find in the course of a few hours online more information than our ancient ancestors could in their whole lives.” No matter how fast you read, there’s always going to be more content out

the rules underlying what they were doing. Importantly, brain imaging revealed that different areas of the brain had been

Learning while multitasking is like forming a habit without consciousness of what is being learned

was little chance of overdosing on information, because any one day in the Olduvai Gorge was a lot like any other. Today, though,

als while single-tasking and other trials while dual-tasking. When they had multitasked, the participants could perform the learned behavior, but they were much less able to identify

similar to forming a habit without consciousness of what is

and memory is increasing all the time, the humans that must

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A study out of UCLA illustrates some of what’s lost when you multitask.[3] Participants engaged in some learning tri-

TIME

to read. I read a fascinating article about this in the Wall Street Journal, Why We’re Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data, that states the following: “For most of human history, there

written information to large amounts of people. However, it is only with the advent of modern computers that the ability to create, duplicate and access vast amounts of information has

RECEPTION

cannot get enough of it. With RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and in my case Google Reader, there is never a shortage of things

has been used for thousands of years. The invention of the Printing Press a few hundred years ago made it possible to distribute

AWARENESS

are so averse to boredom. It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those.” One of the most pervasive problems I’ve found with people like

that the rapidly increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause people problems. Although people talk about “living in the information age,” written information

UNDERSTANDING

turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we

myself who enjoy self improvement is we love information. We

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The first recorded use of the phrase “information overload” was used by the futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970, when he predicted

[Someone posted on your wall ]

“Coming across new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in

RETRIEVAL

wired such that new information gives us a small natural high:

overall ability to focus, nor the mental real estate they are taking up. Let’s consider how we got here.

EXPANDING

University for the Future: Oil Crisis solution

that might consume it.” —Herbert Simon, As Dr. Irving Biederman explained to the Wall Street Journal, our brains are

APPLICATION

tion of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates

a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources

TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE

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The Problem – Too Much Information, Not Enough Time “What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the atten-


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finding focus:

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47

X Outsmart Interruptions

X a good building that’s quiet but doesn’t nected zone ready to create, or perhaps just to relax and enjoy the quiet. Get out-

is different, and no cookie-cutter approach will work for every-

behind,

when

facebook update you’re done with work, and a better policy is to stay disconnected during that time, or work and browsing will creep into the rest of your life. Draw a line in the sand, and say, “After 5 p.m. Spending

nature. Watch a sunset, go to the beach or a lake or river or forest. Take your child or spouse or friend. Recharge your bat-

your connections settings and disable temporarily. Close your

teries, reflect and contemplate. Leave

browser and open another program so you can focus on creating

your mobile device behind, or shut it off.

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4 color process, spot varnish, smooth finish

Reistration Black

from work. A good policy is to leave your work

side. Leave your devices behind and go

one but here are some ideas: Unplug. Just unplug your network

parts of the day disconnected from interruptions (e.g. switch off

text message

e-mail, telephones, Web, etc.) so you can fully concentrate for a significant period of time on one thing.

When you’re on the go, you don’t always

without distraction. Do this for as long as you can. Have a disconnect time each day. It’s like setting office hours if you’re a professor — you set the times that work best for you, and you can even let people know about these times. Let’s say you are disconnected from 8-10 a.m. each day, or 4-5 p.m., or even anytime after 2 p.m. Tell people your policy, so they know you won’t be available for email or IM. And use this time to create. Work somewhere without a connection. For me, this might be the public library — while it has computers with Internet access,

need to be connected. Sure, the iPhone and Android and Blackberry are cool, but they just feed our addictions, they make the problem worse than ever. If you’re driving, shut off your device. If you’re meeting with someone, turn off the device so you can focus on that person completely. If you’re out with your family or friends and not working … leave the device at home. You don’t need this personal time to be interrupted by work or your impulse to check on things. Use blocking software. If you’re doing

there’s no wireless in my library. Some coffeeshops don’t have wireless connec-

the idea — it’s almost as if the connected period is a reward for doing good,

for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. Enjoy

connector or cable, or turn off your wireless router, or go to

tion. Some of you might have to look for

alternating in those intervals. Or you work disconnected for 45 minutes and connect for 15 minutes. You get

have free wireless. Go to this discon-

and no one is better than another. I won’t be able to tell you what will work best for you — I suggest you experiment, and find a method that fits your needs and situation best. Often that will

of variations on this theme, but let’s say you disconnected for 20 minutes, then connected for a maximum of 10 minutes, and kept

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focused work. Disconnect away

phone call

says about it in his book, Foucs. There are varying strategies,

web link

So how do we go about disconnecting? Here’s what Leo Batauta

Amazon: Your Order Delayed be a hybrid approach, which is perfectly great — every person

X

new email

Page 37/38

instant message

work on the computer, you can use various types of software to shut yourself off from the Internet, or at least from

the most distracting portions of it. For example, you can use software to block your web email, Twitter, favorite news sites, favorite blogs, and so on — whatever your worst distractions are, you can block them selectively. Or block all Internet browsing. We’ll talk more about software in a later chapter on tools. Alternate connection and disconnection. There are any number

39

49

>>

You don’t have to respond

A DDR ESS YOUR FEA R S

Page 39/40

We have developed a fairly urgent need to respond to many things: emails, Tweets & other social network status updates, instant messages, phone calls, text messages, blog posts, blog comments, forum posts, and more. This need to respond gives us anxiety until we’ve responded, but unfortunately, there is a never-ending stream of things that require your response. If we

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allow these messages to force us to respond, almost as soon as they come, then we become driven by the need to respond. Our day becomes responsive rather than driven by conscious choices. We flit from one task to another, one response to another, living a life driven by the needs of others, instead of what we need, what we feel is important. You don’t need to respond.Think about why we feel we need to respond to everything. Often it’s just a compulsion — we’re so used to answering messages that we have developed an urge to respond. Often it’s also out of fear: fear that people won’t think we’re doing our job, fear that we’ll lose customers, fear that we’ll miss out on something important, fear that people will think we’re rude or ignoring them. But what if we weaned ourselves from this compulsion? And what if we

4 color process, spot varnish, smooth finish

addressed these fears?

tech self-defense part 1:

1.

DON’T RESPOND

First, imagine that you’re free from the compulsion. Whatwould it be like? You’d choose what you’re going to do today, and work on the important things. You could still respond to emails and other things, but it would be because you decided it was important to communicate something, not because someone else sent you a message and you felt compelled to reply. You’d be much less stressed out, because you don’t feel like you need to get through these piles of things to respond to, or worry about people trying to contact you through various channels.

2.

Next, address the fears. Think about what specific fears you have — are you afraid people will think you’re rude? You’ll miss something? You’ll lose customers, or get in trouble at work? Figure out what your fears are — there are probably more than one. Now address them with a tiny test — go without responding, just for a few hours. Did you miss anything? Did someone get offended? If nothing bad happens, extend this test — try half a day, or a full day. In most cases, nothing bad will happen at all. In a few cases, something negative might happen, but it’ll be pretty minor. You’ll realize that your fears are mostly ungrounded.

3.

Finally, start weaning yourself. If you agree that being free of these compulsions would be a better way of living, start moving towards this life. Again, try just a small test — a couple hours every day when you don’t respond to things. Set a time, after this “response-free” block of your day, when you do respond. This way, you’re in control — you decide when to respond. Eventually, you might increase your “response-free” zone to half a day or more, but start small.

41

Many of us are slaves to the news, to the need to keep updated with what’s happening in the world, in our business niche, with our friends. We are information junkies in some way: we watch TV news all the time, or entertainment news, or keep up with lots of blogs, or our RSS feed reader, or Twitter, or Digg or Deli-

1.

tech self-defense part 2:

LET GO

Page 41/42

We might seem ignorant. Really? How often do people quiz you on current events, or laugh at you for not knowing? Maybe some times, but even if it does happen, so what? Let others be fueled by this need, and let yourself focus on

cious, or email, or one of the many news aggregator sites. The need to keep up consumes much of our day, and creates a kind

things you care about, not what issues

of anxiety our minds barely register. What is this need based

others may think is important.

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on? Why can’t we get free of it? Actually, we can get free. I’ve done it in my life, to a large extent. Let’s examine the two ques-

2.

tions. What is this need based on? In short: fear. If we really think about it, we’re not gaining much by keeping up with all this information. How is it adding to our lives? How is it helping

We might miss out on an opportunity. Possibly. There are always going to be opportunities we miss. But more likely are the opportunities we’re missing

us to create, to live happy lives, to do what’s most important to us, to spend time with our loved ones? If anything, it takes away

because we’re letting our days be con-

from these things. Let me repeat that point: this obsession with

sumed by trying to stay up to date. When

keeping up with information takes away from the things that

we do this, we lose time we could be using

are most important to us. But we try to keep up because we’re

to pursue exciting, real opportunities.

afraid: we might miss something important, and seem ignorant;

<<

you don’t always need to stay updated

we might miss out on an opportunity; we might not see something bad that we need to respond to; something bad might

grounded in anything other than societal norms, and a “need” created by media corporations and similar companies. How to break free: 1) examine each fear individually, and 2) test them. When we shine a light on our fears, they lose power. When we test them to see their validity, they will usually fail, and we can overcome them. Let’s shine a brief light:

A DDR ESS YOUR FEA R S

happen to us if we aren’t informed These fears seem reasonable, until we test them. Then we can see that they’re not really

4 color process, spot varnish, smooth finish

>>

The next step is to actually test the fears. Do this by tuning out of the news or whatever information you try to keep up with, for one day. Then see if any of your fears came true. If not, feel free to read the news you want, peruse the websites you follow. Then

3.

try a second test of two days — see what happens. Keep repeating this, but extending the test, until you can go a couple weeks without staying up to date. Then see if your fears are true.

We might not see something bad that we need to respond to. If something really bad is happening, we’ll know. Even if I only pop in once in awhile, and friends

Testing will show you facts. You’ll see if something bad happens,

and family will always tell me about a

or if you appear ignorant, or if you miss out on big opportunities.

storm or economic collapse or something

You’ll also see whether you are freer to live the life you want.

similar. Sure, this is relying on others, but if they’re going to tell us anyway, why worry about keeping up ourselves?

4.

Something bad might happen to us if we aren’t informed. This is highly unlikely. I’ve been uninformed — tuned out from the news and other information I don’t want — for a few years now. Nothing bad has happened to me. Instead, good things have happened because I’m free to create, to focus on what makes me happy.

43

Page 43/44 Close all other programs except the one

get your space ready

close the Internet and distractions

you need to work with. Close Internet and

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its distractions. If you need the internet for research download/gather all the info you need first, then close your browser.

start focusing

Once you’ve cleared away distractions, focus on that task for as long as you can.” This takes practice. It doesn’t come easily at first. Try to put your FULL attention on that task. Working on an important task. Plowing through email. Talking on the phone, talking with a coworker. Don’t get

don’t look at the green dots

distracted by other things and try to do

If you find your attention being pulled

multiple things at once.

somewhere else, become aware of that, and pull yourself back to your task. The

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awareness is very important. You need

become aware of distractions

to have that consciousness that you are being pulled away because if you do it without thinking, you can’t correct it.

(find solutions for distractions)

Find that awareness first. Keep

refocus & repeat

Keep

pulling

Become aware of when you become distracted. Set aside time for email, calls, time with coworkers or anything other

completed. It sounds simple, but it takes

things like that that you need to do, but

practice. The more you do it, the better

will keep you from completing your task.

you’ll be at it.

then Focus on the next important task.

SINGLE-TASK the time but to be efficient in this society we need to learn ways to do the opposite. The brain is a muscle, that can not be used to do two things at once.

this.

Once you complete an important task,

tech self-defense part 3:

“We are trained to Multitask” we think we should be doing it all

practicing

yourself back and keep your attention focused on that one task. Until the task is

Complete that, and so on. That’s what Leo Babauta calls Single-Tasking, and it’s a very important skill. With practice you

complete task! move on to the next

can get better at focusing on one task at a time. And become more effective less stressed and accomplish more for the long term.

45

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