Resist the Internet sometimes
Ok, right off the bat… If you are reading this blog in bed, stop now, turn your device off, do something else for now, and come back to the internet later…
I could probably end this blog right here, because this is the main point.
Bu there are three important ideas here…
1. Our brains as humans are very susceptible to input right before we fall asleep and right after we wake up. Be careful what you feed your brian in those moments.
2. If you control the first moments of your day, you’ll have a better day.
3. The light that glowing screens emits is REALLY bad for sleep.
1. Our Susceptible Brains
Our brains are very susceptible to input upon sleeping and waking. I have read science to support this, but my point here does not really need science, just think about how you actually feel.
I know for me, on balance…when I look at my email to see what’s come in…I pretty much never feel more calm and happy than I did before I looked at it!
So…I don’t look at email or the internet right before I go to bed, or right when I wake up in the morning.
I give myself at least 30 minutes of internet blackout time each evening and morning.
I sleep better, and I wake up better.
Here’s the scene: You use your mobile device for an alarm clock. It goes off. You are in bed and you are comfortable and you think… let me just check in and see what’s come in.
The first problem is this:
If first thing you do upon waking is get online, you are giving control of the kind of day you are going to have to everyone else in the world.
The second problem: You are likely to feed your brain negative inputs in its most sensitive time. Think about the land mines that are typcially in your email…
The news of the deal you lost. The person who misunderstood your proposal and sent a message cc’ing the world making you look stupid. The reply you were anxious for that didn’t come in…
All those things will still be there 30 minutes later, but the big differenece is that 30 minutes later, your brain will be much more equipped to take them in stride and not have them make you feel nervous or upset or insecure or doubting your existence — as they might when they hit you first thing.
2. Control the first moments of your day
So what should you do with your first 30 minutes in the morning?
List some things you are grateful for. Decide what you want to accomplish today. Think about someone important to you. Give yourself time to focus on a goal you have and what you need to do today to support it. Exercise.
Even the act of resisting looking at the interet when you first wake up in the morning is like doing an push-up, but for your brain. You exerted control. You created a small success to start the pattern of your day. You can build on that.
Conversely, I had a friend and colleague tell me she was feeling really out of control in her work and life. She told me that her husband brought her a cup of tea in bed every morning, and she would look at her email, and sometimes it would be noon before she got out of bed.
My advice to her. Stop doing that! Thank your nice husband, drink your tea, get out of bed, decide what you want to get done that day…THEN check your email.
The other time management windfall I do faithfully is to use the first 5 minutes of your official workday to plan your day.
It’s truly a miracle for me.
If I start with a 5 minute plan, I get the stuff done I want to get done. If I don’t, I get sucked into the endless tasks that live in my email, and fail to get the more important things done.
Here is an article about starting your day with a 5 minute plan.
3. Glowing screens and sleep
I think I have always been over-senstive to glowing screens. I do not like to look at glowing screens right before I go to bed. I can feel it stimulating and upsetting my brain in a way that is not good for sleep. So I always naturally avoided it.
I keep coming across studies that talk about the type of blue light you get from electronic devices and television, and how it makes your brain think, “it’s time to be awake!”.
Here’s the most recent that I have found: This is what happens to your brain and body when you check your phone before bed.
There is nothing as useful to a productive day than a good night’s sleep.
So if you are one of those people who instead of going to bed thinks, I need to check facebook and instgram and the news, and my email one more time, you are shooting yourself in the foot (or brain) twice.
Once because the content is not what your brain needs for a healthy sleep, and secondly because the light from those devices is telling your brain: BE AWAKE!!.
Sure, I do not have a perfect record of quiet meditiation each night before I turn in. There are plenty of nights when the last thing I do is turn the television off… But, then in closing up the house and getting ready for bed, I never go to back to internet. I charge my phone outside my bedroom, and have a separate alarm clock.
If I need to use my phone as an alarm clock, I turn the data plan off before I go into the bedroom.
I consider it a gift that I give to myself that I don’t have to invite the craziness of the world into my sleep.
We are all the source of our own time and energy.
How you choose what and when you do things has a tremdous impact on your productivity, your happiness, and your satisfaction with work and life. What you say YES and NO to, has a huge impact on you.
Be aware of the choices you are making, and make them on purpose to stack the deck in your favor.
I have found that resisting being slave to my devices, and prioriting the people in the room over the people on the internet, and creating a peaceful opportunity to sleep and wake, makes a really big, positive difference for me.
I’d love to hear what you think.
What do you think?
Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)
And make sure to read her book
RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.
The answers to your career struggles and your next promotion are in it!