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  • Writer's picturejglicksmith

Stealing Time

I'm currently reading a wonderful book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. (His Twitter ID is @calnewport, but don't expect him to respond!) Newport describes our current cultural condition of constant distraction. I don't know about you, but the pinging and the interruptions (think about the new ads that pop up in the middle of watching a video on FB!) keep us from doing work that matters at a deep, detailed level. This also keeps us from dropping into #FLOW. All these distractions seem to not only be increasing, but accelerating, at an alarming rate. This has the effect of making us feel anxious ALL. THE. TIME. It is hard to turn it off, because we have bought into a culture where FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a THING!

My colleague, Jennifer Moss Breen, is passionate about teaching people to be resilient. In our book collaboration, Visionary Leadership in a Turbulent World: Thriving in the New VUCA Context, she wrote a chapter called, "Leadership Resilience in a VUCA World". She describes a practice of self-awareness that would serve us all to cultivate.

She suggests that we need to learn to "steal time" - to shut down, to walk in the woods, to turn off everything, and listen to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us.

This is what makes us #resilient during those stressful times that are volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

Both Newport and Moss Breen suggest that we consider scheduling our downtime. I've learned to do this over the years, but, often the world intrudes and I "forget" about strictly guarding my time. This was brought home to me yesterday, when I had logged on to my client site (at 8:30 a.m.) and found out that one of the folks I'm working with (but whom I have never met) actually sent me an email at 6:00 a.m. for a 6:30 a.m. meeting! I declined with a message that I would NEVER accept a meeting that early without 24 hours notice. Then, I set my hard boundary by telling her that that was my personal time. She actually wrote back and said she didn't know what my hours were. SERIOUSLY? In what world is it OK to ping some you have never met that early in the morning? This is the new world of corporate America in the "#agile" software development arena.

All of this to announce I'm starting my next book. The working title is "Flow-based Leadership in the World of Information Technology Development". It's time to steal time and go deep again. 

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