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  • Take Back Control Of Your Work (And Your Life)

    You already have too many choices to make. People aren’t designed to do two tasks at the same time (much less three or four). We’re better working sequentially than simultaneously.

    Upstart: Career

    I just got back from the SxSW interactive conference in Austin. I went there to give a talk about fueling sustainable productivity by balancing

    Courtesy: Vlademire Melnik/PhotoXpress

    periods of fully absorbed attention with intermittent renewal.

    Peering out into that vast hall, I fear I saw the future: a sea of the digital elite hunched over blinking technologies, tweeting and texting as I talked.

    Here’s what I later learned some of them were saying, all in 140 characters or less:

    “I’m splitting my attention between @tonyschwartz & tweeting that 2 B gr8 U have to be willing to suffer/practice.”

    “Tony Schwartz tells SXSW attendees to go to bed earlier. Tough sell.”

    “How can Tony Schwartz stay sane giving a speech on focusing on task at a time while the audience is on their iPads/iPhones at same time?”

    I wasn’t so worried about my own sanity — I was only doing one thing at a time, after all — but I was a little concerned about theirs. We’ve truly entered a world of nonstop input and output.

    So what exactly would it take to seize back control of our lives? We need a series of deliberate practices to counter the powerful forces so accelerating our lives.

    1. Just say no.

    Imagine for a moment that you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment one-third the size. Everything you have seems necessary until you realize it simply won’t fit in your new place.

    There’s always room for less.

    You likely already have too much to do, too much information to absorb, and too many choices to make. If so, your challenge is learning to say no far more often — “no” to more projects, more meetings, more emails, more tweets, more Facebook updates, more purchases, more friends, more “likes”, and more fans and followers.

    Prioritization isn’t just what you want to do, it’s increasingly what you ought not do. What can you delegate and eliminate, take off your plate or put on the back burner in each dimension of your life?

    If you’re going to take on something new, what are you going to stop doing? How are you going to be more ruthlessly selective?

    My colleague Scott Belsky refers to this as “curating” your life. Curate comes from the Latin curare, meaning “to care” — in this case for yourself. Think of this as a Not To Do list.

    2. Create more space in your brain — and your life.

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    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Career

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