Revenge of the Ping

I’ll make this quick – today, I planned for a totally productive night of getting shit done. I was gonna review my budget, research some investments, blog a little bit, and organize my articles. Yeah, I can tell that you’re totally jealous of my ridiculously awesome life of sex, drugs and alcohol.

But it all started going downhill from work – First, I was given a big task to do in the morning. Instead of focusing on that, I spent my day answering emails, attending discussions, customizing templates, and intermittently going back to that task. And then my colleagues mucked around at the snack corner so of course I had to join them for that. And so I had to work late, and I decided to reward myself with a Swensen’s dinner (come here you, chicken baked rice and US fries and dips, you!), and then I decided to read a few chapters of my book, and check out a few other blogs at the same time… and before I knew it, it was bedtime. Dang!

So hey, if I couldn’t do any of that other stuff, the least I could do was squeeze in a blogpost, right? So much love for you, dear reader, so much love.

Saying “no”

So I thought I was being awesome my multitasking my ass off (generating Pivot Tables while shooting off emails? pssshhttt. No problem.), but I was actually unknowingly falling prey to the insidious monster known as the Ping. The Ping creeps up on you, often disguised as activities like “multitasking” or “urgent priority”, but really, it just pulls you away from the most important things you’ve gotta get done today.

This article from HBR talks about staying focused on only the most important things. It sounds cliched as hell, but we don’t realize how crucial it really is to prevent us from crashing and burning:

“Never before has it been so important to say “No.” No, I’m not going to read that article. No, I’m not going to read that email. No, I’m not going to take that phone call. No, I’m not going to sit through that meeting.

It’s hard to do because maybe, just maybe, that next piece of information will be the key to our success. But our success actually hinges on the opposite: on our willingness to risk missing some information. Because trying to focus on it all is a risk in itself. We’ll exhaust ourselves. We’ll get confused, nervous, and irritable. And we’ll miss the CEO standing next to us in the elevator.”

More data = more noise

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a General Paper essay for junior college, we live in a hyperconnected world. Breaking news, stock prices, tweets, and drunk photos of you last Friday night on Facebook are literally at our fingertips. (Of course, I could do with some types of media being not so easily accessible – such as Justin Bieber’s latest single Boyfriend. Shudder.) But as Nassim Taleb shares in this article, having more data makes it even more likely for you to make mistakes. More data generates more noise, which makes the likelihood of finding what you need – the signal – even lower.

Keeping up with the flurry of information is a loser’s game. In fact, it is very likely that all that information could screw you over. Or kill you. (statistics show that inΒ 80% of car crashes, the driver was distracted during the three seconds preceding the incident.)

Staying focused, #likeaboss

So make your to-do list before you start anything in your work day, and stick to it. Turn off your email alerts and your instant messaging chats. Leave your phone in a place where you cant reach it. And do just ONE THING at a time. You’ll be way more effective than trying to “multitask” everything away.

Something non-work related: When you’re having lunch with friends, try putting your phones in a phone stack. I tried it last week and it was one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve had in awhile πŸ™‚

And the next time you hear the siren call of the Ping, tell it to go screw itself.

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169 thoughts on “Revenge of the Ping

  1. I think I’m one of the few that find the constant message/info bombardment irritating & have no trouble turning it off…. I just like to play with the cool apps and gadgets!

    • I couldnt wait for the day to come when I would have my mp3 player, navigation, email, internet and phone in one device, and couldnt have imagined I would be constantly connected to everyone on ever met via a social network.

      Now I use “airplane mode” daily just to check out and focus for a couple hours.

      • Airplane mode is brilliant. I just tell people I’m going to be in an “out of signal zone” and since 50% of the time it’s true, I don’t feel guilty. I’ve stopped logging in to social media except for 30minutes at night, and limit my blog reading. It makes a huge difference in productivity!

      • Oh yes, productivity most certainly goes up once you stop jones less on blogs and sm! Ha! About time people began to realize how much time they waste!

  2. This is so true, the amount of times I’ve wasted important hours on ‘I’ll just check/refresh/refresh again…’ When I came to Norway on my travels I didn’t bother getting a Norwegian phone, and it is SO refreshing!

    • Isn’t that how it works? Have thought a lot about this lately–I’m new to blogs and social media, and I love running across articles like this, but at the same time, I’m wary of the pull of online/wireless life…

  3. hey cheerfulegg.. really nailed it there. Right now… i have shit load of work.. and i am reading freshly pressed. OOyaaahh! πŸ˜› i better get going! πŸ˜›

  4. Hi Lionel, great post, well written, but i don’t agree fully with the content and context.. You can either multi-task or you can’t.. I dont think there are any in-between’s or two ways about it or a workaround.. What you are suggesting (like some other people who have written on the similar subject) is not very practical in this fast paced environment..

    Maybe your work doesn’t revolve around e-mails or customers who require action consistently and quickly.. So you can afford to ignore or keep away from e-mails for a period of time while you finish that report or have that snack or listen to your boss droning or talking on the phone to someone, but as said when it comes to the question of customers, its not practical in my industry (shipping and freight) to stay away from e-mails for any period of time unless you are meeting other clients outside the office..

    If properly organised or arranged, multi-tasking can be fun.. Here i am writing a response to this post, while waiting for the Dashboard of my blog http://shippingandfreightresource.com to open and also waiting for my Photoshop program to open..

    There, both are open now, so this response is done and dusted.. πŸ™‚ Keep on multi-tasking i say..

  5. wow your life sounds a lot like mine, especially the part where it is all of a sudden bed time…. I get home from work around 4:30 and get in the shower to wash the day off, and by the time I get out it is already past 5pm and I only have 4 hours to do all the things i planed on doing for myself by the time i have checked my e-mails, logged on Facebook, and checked my blog and maybe ate dinner it is already well past my bedtime. Life is so unfair

  6. Totally. I gave up multi-tasking last year and am far more productive for it. I’ve also removed a lot of virtual clutter. I don’t really need to read all those blogs and other feeds, all those people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth.

  7. Great post! I always turn off my phone most of the time now (sometimes not the wisest decision) but it leaves me having the time to enjoy whatever I’m doing without interruption.

  8. So true that it’s frightening……as I sit here checking my WordPress notification instead keeping at the task at hand. Thanks for the kick in the butt to get me back to what I SHOULD be doing. I am so guilty of all you say.
    You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

    • I wish I got this kick in the butt more often. Interestingly, I wrote a similar post a couple of weeks back. But that was focused on how exhausted I feel after I wasted all this time.

  9. I run into this time and time again. I wake up, tell myself I’m going to have a busy day. Run through all of the things I have to do but for some reason at the end of the day not even half of these tasks is done! Ughh

    Great post. I’m sure a lot of people can connect to this very well

  10. Had to log back in to make my comment which meant prolonging my blog-surfing time before getting to work on my novel manuscript (which is supposed to me my NUMBER 1 priority) and now have to decide whether to follow your blog, and since you write so well, and proved me wrong about the possibility of getting freshly pressed with any ‘cuss’ word in the body (‘shit’ is irreplaceableβ€”thank you censors; is the f-bomb WordPress approved too?) I think I will go ahead and press the plus sign in the circle which indicates to me I am connected to the most musical of noise makers around.

    Ping!

  11. Totally, totally, totally agree. So much wired noise in our life. How long have I just spent randomly surfing, Facebooking, blogging, emailing? What did I actually do? I like the ping but it also creates that nervous reaction that expects action.
    I’ve also read that if you turn off the Ping and don’t actually know (you’ve received another email) that concentration is better and you are more productive. Now, just to choose to turn off that little noise-maker.
    Congrats on the FP. Glad to have found you here!

  12. Gosh, you are so right! Even on wordpress, I do my best to finish writing before checking any notifications. Turning off those pings on pones and social media really brings you back to life and to the present moment. That’s where real joy comes from, which is the ultimate accomplishment.

    I got lost countless times trying to get “all” the information for one thing or another before doing “something,” and again this is another way to paralyze ourselves. What a good deed you’re doing here.

    Great post, great reminder. Thanks for writing πŸ™‚

    Love & Peace,
    ~Tinkerbell

  13. Ah so true – I know what I’m doing when I check my emails for the tenth time, or log onto twitter….but it’s just too tempting sometimes! Will be trying the phone stack though – even if it’s just mine while I get on with jobs!

  14. Scientifically proven. People who think they can successfully multitask can’t. No-one can! We just do lots of things badly. Better to do one thing well, isn’t it. Well observed.

  15. But congrats on the freshly pressed anyway!! Ditto to being totally pinged out – there was an episode of Two and a Half Men were Alan has a melt down in a book shop when he realises he can’t possibly read all the books there are in the world….I have the internet equivalent epiphany daily. The phone stack is genius (I also leave my phone at home some days – shock horror! I’m old enough to remember that it’s possible to not be contactable 24/7 even if it does freak out my near ones and dear ones from time to time). Great post to read and defo worth sifting you out from everything else today.

  16. I couldn’t agree more…it is amazing how much all this technology we have can distract us so much from getting what’s really important done whether you’re at work or a stay at home mum like myself……we actually have Sundays as a computer free day so that everyone connects with each other and don’t connect online….loved your post….

  17. But… snif snif I found you because I got distracted by the freshly pressed page!

    And I agree – people with their phones on a night out is a huge faux pas. They’re all trying to snag the best pic to show off how much fun they’re having on their facebook page, yet all they’re really doing is bragging about it when in all honesty nothing is happening!

  18. Funny, I just read an article about cognitive blindness in a trade magazine minutes ago. In my field, focus is a must, lives are risked when a person doesn’t pay full attention to the task at hand. I’m an aircraft mechanic and in most hangars, cell phones and other distractions are prohibited. I have a shady memory so I make a list of every task that has to be done at the beginning of the day, and if I don’t complete them in time, I make a list for the next day so I know I get those things done before moving on. Sometimes it gets to the point where I’ll find myself driving back to work at 2am to make sure I torqued or safety wired one bolt because I signed the paperwork for that plane but didn’t remember safetying everything. At home, I’m totally guilty of getting extremely sidetracked when I sit down at my computer to write a blog or edit some photos, type an email, etc. More technology doesn’t always mean more productivity at all.

  19. Hey Cheerful Egg, I’m a new reader and reasonably new to blogging. Loved the article and will definitely be keeping up to date with posts.

    Have a good night/day.

    Job Search Mania

  20. good reminders. i was in the middle of doing work for a client when i was distracted by your blog… so glad now at least i know i’m not alone. pop by for a procrastinary visit: http://www.lorigregory.com, maybe even make a comment if you’re feeling extra slacker-ish.

    cheers.

  21. This article rings very true for our very fast paced world! One trick I use at work (and one of my good friends and colleagues has used for years too) is that I keep the ringer on my phone turned off. I can still see that it’s ringing by the little red light on my phone and I have call display so if it’s a really important call I can choose to answer it if I must but I’ve found at least in my line of work that the interruption of a phone call when I’m in the middle of an important project is more detrimental to my productivity than answering that call, my clients or colleagues can leave me a voice-mail and I will call them back as soon as I am finished, if they don’t leave a message I guess it wasn’t that important. I realize this wouldn’t work in every industry but it’s a key to find these little productivity savers in every field – I find I get a lot more work done by focusing on one project at a time, that way I can devote my full attention to it. I also fully agree to the ignoring of the cell phones in social situations πŸ˜‰

  22. Reblogged this on Waves and Tidings and commented:
    This is one of the most truly honest blogs describing the anguish those of is information junkies go through when trying to accomplish simple daily tasks. All too often we are overcome by those information pouring sites like Twitter, Facebook, so many blogs, YouTube; also known as the ‘weapons of mass distraction’.

    • Flicking down the comments and you are so right about the phone stack. During my travels I was once asked to place my phone in a lead box for security reasons and perhaps we should extend the phone stack into such a box inorder to get away from it completely.

  23. It’s so easy (for me, at least) to get distracted and sucked into these things. I have to work really hard to stop being distracted. I even find it really hard to close my email application or twitter because I might miss something. I’m only fooling myself, of course.

    Great post!

  24. You are so right, multitasking only leads to multi-irritation of things not getting finished. Hence, I better sign out from WordPress, turn off the laptop alltogether and get back to my final exam books! But one more thing – congrats on being Freshly Pressed! πŸ™‚

  25. really nice article. Sometimes (or always?) it’s very difficult to focus on 1 thing. We always say it and keep it in mind that First thing first, but the reality is… I don’t remember What i’m going to do before i read this article.

  26. I really enjoyed reading this and hearing that other people feel this way! I’m having such a difficult time separating myself from my work…I always think that just one more hour will help, but that turns into three hours, and then I’ve lost all opportunity to do anything else that day. Ahh!

    Cheers to saying no!
    Courtney Hosny
    http://www.oneweektocrazy.com

  27. Pingback: Why Pings Are Ruining Your Work « Rickipedia

  28. Great post. So true. I turned off my push on my phone as I was getting sick of the stupid thing alerting me all of the time, emails, tweets, messages and so it goes on. Then a friend the other day moaned that I hadn’t replied to her last 5 whatsapp messages *sigh*. Unlike some people I know I don’t need or have the urge to cuddle my phone or “use it as a safety blanket” is how my Dad describes it.

  29. Pingback: Is Blogging a Waste of Time? | Your Daily Dose

  30. Wow this is soo true so many people are so connected to thier phones because it holds everything they need. I was watch keeping up with the kardashians and kris Jenner had this issue she wouldn’t even listen to her husband when he was talking. Not being able to say NO plays a huge part in your life. Sometimes Iwhen someone touches my phone my heart stops, that’s not normal but almost everyone has that mini heart attack when they misplaced thei phone for five seconds. The society needs to focus on peopel and not the technology holding it together.

  31. Many distractions in today’s not-so-small world! Off to work I go…signing off WordPress, Twitter and FB now. LOL! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  32. “Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started.” – Gretchen Rubin. God only knows how many hours I’ve spent refreshing my News Feed for something interesting to pop up (knowing fully well I’ve got piles of homework to do) even though there’s nothing there; not even new notifications. It’s amazing what deactivating your account for a week at a time can do for you – puts everything back on track. Thanks for the great post!

  33. Pingback: Freshly Pressed Ping | cheerful.egg

  34. this is why I opted to NOT have internet on my iPhone πŸ™‚ We all need to go outside and enjoy nature again, leave the Pings, phones, Tweets, Likes, and +1 in the house.

  35. Yes I agree. We do always seem to multi-task nowadays but for me with decreasing success. Not long ago and a fax machine was a real big thing. I also remember when the office had typists and I was once told-off for actually typing my own letter. Now I text, email, blog, tweet and facebook…

  36. I am so with you on this … and yes this week had been very pinging and not getting much done .. . love the eggs at the top by the way πŸ™‚

  37. Your day sounds like mine. I had a list of things that I was definitely going to do today yet I haven’t done most of it, have wasted time doing totally non essential things instead.
    Steven Wade, Edinburgh and Dundee

  38. But, but, but… I like Boyfriend! =P Brilliant tip on the phone stack. The art of face-to-face conversation is slowly dying; our generation needs to snap out of it!

  39. Story of my life. I’m so busy and I have nothing to show for my time at all. Its driving me nuts!

  40. Um… I came to wordpress to look up some information and ended up reading your blog instead πŸ™‚ It happens to me all the time. I am thinking about getting a timer and setting up limits for everything. I am older, 56, and have lapses now and then, I and another lady have it figured out. There is so much information it is hard for our brains to tell what is important enough to keep! That is my story and I am stickin to it the next time I forget where my keys are πŸ˜‰ Thank you for t he info! Patty By the way… I have moved to http://happyclutter.com but do not feel like logging out of here get the right address in. Too lazy on a Thursday evening….

  41. Your post is a timely reminder about prioritizing and focusing at work. Thank you! I just started a new job and trying to keep up with everything is making my head spin. I have moments when I can stop everything and focus on just one task, but then 10 emails come in and I start to go into a tail spin again. Tomorrow I’m going to try taking a deep breath, minimizing my email, and tuning out the proverbial noise πŸ™‚

  42. Yeah, we all miss to notice the importance of doing one thing at a time.

    It’s really way more productive than multitasking. I’ve tried it once. Although, I haven’t made a habit of it. Yet.

  43. That has happened to me a lot lately. I have a to-do list but I don’t stick to it. And at the end of the day I barely do one of those of the things I had to. And most of the time there not the most important ones. Too many distractions
    Very good article.

  44. Things To Do Today: It is a list or call it a plan and at the end of the day. Did you accomplish your goal or objective? A plan is just a guide to manage change with, but like others , I love multitasking. And at times I cherish the moment to just do nothing and be thankful for that moment. Good writes and good food for thought. Have a great day!

  45. this is so awesome. i’m a multitasker by heart. and i’m good at it. at least, i think i am. LOL anyway, thanks for the tips πŸ™‚

  46. Excellent post. The tragedy of all this distraction is overload and in the wasteland of time, many stop blogging all together, or whatever their dreams are.
    My disciplines? I allow a block of time a couple times a week to attend to these “distractions”. By so doing I gain the good side of it in that it stimulates creativity in me, thus fueling further endeavors. As always, balance is the key. And when with people, I literally choose to stop it all and “be” in the moment. Real face-to-face relationships carry the key value ALWAYS.
    But for now, my block of time is over as yours was the last I will read. Butβ€”it was well worth it!
    Must turn off and go! Especially since a dear person in my life just appeared on the scene.
    Peace,
    Alexandria

  47. Dude, thank you for this post πŸ™‚ Very illuminating. You’re right, focusing our attention is one of the most important things we can do. At the risk of sounding all airy-fairy, when we give our full attention and consciousness to what we’re doing, that’s when we’re at our most powerful and effective! Thanks for reminding me, I definitely fall prey to the ‘trying to do 5000 things at once and take in every single piece of information’ trap.

  48. Yeah, that all sounds fantastic in theory, but then once you done the list, you will prob make yourself a cup of tea, notice that a bit of angry reality tv is on and thats it, the mornings gone! I personally think we should think of a way to slow down time, lol xxx love your post xxxx

  49. Pingback: Social networking is ruining your real time Fun !! | iiteeeestudents

  50. I can totally relate with what have gone all day long , how things that were really important got delayed by things that were not actually important but seemed important at that time !!

  51. Nice post! I have been working on this! And I. Try and stay with what I’m at the time and nothing else will working on what ever I’m doing

  52. I’ve deactivated facebook to study for my exams. Leaving my phone on silent and making a to-do list helps, too! It’s hard sometimes to stay focus in this global village that gives everyone ADHD.

  53. Great reminder. Such a great reminder that I was tempted to stop reading part way through, to get on with something important, like life. But here I am at the bottom of a long list of respondents, hoping to steal another moment of your time. Now, we’re even. Ha!

  54. Great post– true reality.
    Your comment about the phone stack reminded me of this:
    At MIT they have a course for engineers to learn how to be social, including dress for success and rules of fine dining…two of the seemingly obvious tips: Do not put your car keys or phone on the table. – keeps the table clear and enables to diners to focus on each other. Another benefit if you happen to be seated and eating out in the hot sun…you will not overheat your iPhone to the point the only thing it would do is make an emergency call until it has the chance to cool down.

  55. Ahh but, where would we be without technology? Although I do agree we shouldn’t be allowed technology in the car.

    What a terrible place to become distracted.

    Wayne

  56. This article is so true about modern society. It’s really hard to work from an online computer without getting the constant alerts from different sources such as email’s, facebook and twitter etc.
    Not to mention the mobile and landline. Trying to stay focused on one task is a major accomplishment itself.
    I feel like I was more switched on years ago without mobiles and these others sources of distraction.
    Facebook must cost employers hundreds of lost work hours every year with people taking sneaky peaks and chats whilst supposedly carrying out their daily duties!

  57. The internet and smartphone’s etc are a procrastinators best friend! There will ALWAYS be something to look at online, no matter how unimportant. It’s hard to let go of….

  58. Hi Lionel, great post. Have you read the One Minute Manager meets the Monkey? It is a really interesting book and might help you deal with some of those distractions.

  59. Thanks for writing this πŸ˜€
    of course, there’s always a thought nagging me in the back of my mind to “get to work”, but this post was what brought me to actually start being productive.

  60. What a good egg you are. I love this post. I had to leave Facebook altogether because I was wasting so much time. Funny thing is I don’t miss it at all anymore. Now I have my blog, and enjoy reading others. Congrats on Freshly Pressed. I’m a follower now. cheers Judy
    judysp.wordpress.com

  61. Someone who shares a fellow hatred to Justin Bieber! Hurrah πŸ˜‰ Love the past. I fall prey too often to procrastination and then justify doing other things by calling it ‘multitasking’.

    Followed!

  62. top tip – make a list. My list is often too long to get through in a day, but it’s satisfying to find old lists of stuff you have actually accomplished. And if blog spotting is on the list, maybe try being more specific about what you are looking for. Ready steady go!!!!!

  63. Heheh – I like that ‘phone stack’ idea.

    I’ve been trying to pace myself, too these days. It’s a challenge in and of itself! But there are times that I feel that I have gotten much more done when I decide not to multitask. Go figure!

  64. I’ve found that some people rattle off a bunch of facts without actually asking a question…. my fav response, “Noted, but ignored.”
    saves me loads of time! πŸ˜‰

  65. Watched a mother with a phone’s glow in her face totally ignoring her two little girls at a hotel restaurant this morning. The little ones, maybe all of five years old, had to fend for themselves at the buffet counter. I think we are creating another lost generation.
    A motto for our age: Live Now, Tweet Later.

  66. Great and informative post, but I must admit it made me giggle several times, because just me checking out freshly pressed blogs is in fact distracting me from my tasks at hand! Nevertheless, thank for the helpful tips and I believe I will go back to making to do lists and risk missing out on some other cool and interesting stuff ! πŸ™‚

  67. I loved your writing style for this article I must follow you to read more (when my to-do list is done).

  68. Pingback: How to Stop Being Distracted « Vic Careers

  69. Pingback: OVERLY ATTACHED FACEBOOK USER « MEMEOPINIONS

  70. Pingback: Weekly Roundup : “Freshly Pressed” & Old stuffs « NightlyArt Library

  71. Pingback: Taking A Break | cheerful.egg

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