Epiq Living
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Epiq Living

Starve your distractions & feed your focus

The base conditions for getting into Flow states

They say that our attention will be our biggest superpower in the 21st century — and a high flow life necessitates that we starve our distractions, so we can feed our focus. Protect our minds from outside inputs, so we can focus on producing the planned strategic outputs.

Stop wasting time looking at the inbox, but be stubborn about producing great work for the outbox.

What has thus become super important for me has been to protect & reserve my first 120 minutes of the day (post my morning routine of nearly 75 minutes) for what Cal Newport has called deep work when our willpower is usually at its highest. While I was always mindful of my attention, this has taken on a ninja sense of urgency as we come out of the emergency pandemic states we found ourselves in, in 2020, where dare I say, most of us were distracted by the outside world.

To ensure that I can access the present and ‘win’ (this means different things to different people depending upon what your life goals are), I’ve come to recognize that I have to adopt a strategy of NOT paying attention, rather than doing so.

Here’s what I’ve done so far this year (in a few days), with a strong emphasis on ‘digital management’ and mostly self-distractions (we can talk about external ones another time), which are the ones that sabotage our greatness for the most part.

  • Keep my phone in perennial DND mode
  • Switch off almost all notifications
  • Checking WhatsApp once in the day for no more than 15 minutes (late in the evening)
  • Check & reply to emails once a day in no more than 15 minutes (late afternoon)
  • Using binaural beats-based focus music
  • No meetings or calls until after 1 pm
  • Checking no social media until late in the evening and that too, for more than 10 minutes
  • Not looking at any news platform until late and ideally every 2 or 3 days — most of it is negative (if the world shifted (as in COVID times), I’ll hear of that anyway!)
  • Uninstalled nearly 100+ rarely used apps from my iPhone
  • Unsubscribed from nearly 100+ e-newsletters using an AI tool

Its been immensely beneficial — productivity, deep work, strategic outputs, not to my mention my overall sense of wellbeing, etc. although I have to admit a bit scary at first at ‘missing out’. And by shifting the locus of control from an extrinsic to an intrinsic one, provides a huge dose of confidence as well.

But beyond the psychological benefits of focus for flow, neuroscience has been equally fascinating — something that has become even more visible over the past few years, with more research studies backing. I will geek out on this in a future piece.

Until next time, get off the distractions and notifications wagon wheel, and get flowing.

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