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It's not about better productivity, it's about better boundaries

David Sherry
2 min read
It's not about better productivity, it's about better boundaries

I think we have an epidemic of working while feeling like we aren't getting anything accomplished.

One of the biggest anxieties I see in myself and my clients is the desire to be further along, faster.

Feeling low-level anxiety? Feeling behind? Always thinking about the future and trying to problem solve... Feeling scattered...?

My guess is that sounds familiar.

I see this constantly with clients, and in myself.

For anyone ambitious, being given not only all of the tools in the world, but constant examples of other people's journeys and successes, it's hard to not constantly be in a state of comparison. We see only one dimension of people online, and that's what they choose to share.

It's hard to connect with someone who's one-dimensional, and so we also feel disconnected.

Loneliness. Lack of satisfaction. Always feeling behind.

These are the modern struggles.

And while I would take these over hard manual labor, they are struggles nonetheless.

Setting Boundaries

I think it's boundaries, not better productivity, that we need.

They sound the same, but one is about adding to complexity (better to-do list apps, more hotkeys, etc.) and the other is about simplification and focus through constraint.

We think that better productivity systems will give us the boundaries that we need, but oftentimes they add to the confusion.

A piece of paper is often better than a complex productivity app.

One of them lets us hide.

The other uses constraints and forces focus.

Getting over and feeling uncomfortable is the main challenge of setting boundaries.

Just like it's uncomfortable to say no to a request from a friend, it's way harder and more uncomfortable to say no to all of what the web is requesting of you at this moment.

As I write this to you right now I feel pulled toward opening new tabs.

But every time I resist that urge and let it pass, I am able to get into a deeper level of focus and satisfaction.

It of course helps to set yourself up in a better environment.

As simple as this sounds, even just removing the header and footer bars on my home screen helped me not see the Slack app, which made me feel better. It's like removing cookies from the cubbard.

You can find and create tweaks like this. You can leave your phone at home. You can block off time.

But mostly it's about learning that on the other side of the small discomfort of what your brain tells you is missing out, is a much more enjoyable connection to your work, regardless of the task.

Ironically it's getting uncomfortable with "missing out" and setting boundaries that set us free.

See if you can set some boundaries on your focus for just 5-minutes and be present where you're at.

Then notice what you feel distracted by.

Then, instead of giving in, see if you can hold your attention, and go deeper.

The first 5-10 minutes will be difficult, but suddenly you might find yourself with more flow and satisfaction.

Hope you have an amazing week,

xx David

Committing to Your Work