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Apr 5, 201703:58 PMApplied Mindfulness

with Ed Maxwell

Quit social media

(page 1 of 2)

If the mere idea of quitting social media gives you what teens refer to as FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” listen up. Cal Newport makes an excellent case that you’ll be coming out ahead in his book Deep Work.

The main time drain

Before we tackle social media, let’s start with that enormous time drain: email. Look back on your last full week of work, and including checking email at night, tally up how much time you’ve spent on email. How much of that time, if any, was truly productive? How often did you make something worthwhile and lasting versus take care of logistics?

Newport acknowledges that we can’t escape email, but we can set up constraints to protect ourselves. One counterintuitive suggestion he has is to do more work when you email someone. Newport asserts we can save ourselves time in the long run by putting more work in up front.

For instance, rather than email back and forth about when to meet and what to talk about, send the person a short, specific agenda, along with several potential times and dates that you could meet. Or rather than forward an email to your colleagues with just “What do you think?” added at the top, craft specific questions and insights about the original message for colleagues to respond to. Doing this work up front can save you several email exchanges that would fragment your time.

The more controversial advice he gives is to not respond at all if the email meets certain criteria. If 1) the email is vague, 2) it has nothing that interests you, and 3) nothing very good would happen if you respond and nothing very bad would happen if you don’t, then simply do not reply. The last criterion requires some judgment. However, the more you practice, the more you’ll get a feel for when not to reply.


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