So now I’m procrastinating on the Internet. But the deeper problem remains: Why can't I force myself to work efficiently anymore?
Let’s focus. Here’s the trick: Take your
current project and narrow it down to one
aspect that you can accomplish each day.
Thin-slice it. Jane Austen’s most famous
quote about her writing is that she worked
on a "little bit"—two inches wide—"of
ivory." Kill expectation. Eliminate the
extraneous bull hockey, chew gum (it boosts brain power—and your metabolism
by 20 percent), and fixate. When you compress
things down to a human level, you
can nerd out with joy.
And when I say "focus" I don’t mean
strapping your garters to the chair. Text your
new friends and procrastinate a little—procrastinating
is a way of brainstorming—
no multitasking. Ninety-eight percent of
people perform worse on projects when
they’re multitasking, according to Garth
Sundem’s entrancing book Brain Trust. And
when you take a break? Walk outside and
look at a tree. It helps restore your attention.
P.S. As reported by Gareth Cook in The
Boston Globe, recent experiments by Harvard
Business School Professor Michael
Norton, who worked with colleagues at
Yale and the University of Pennsylvania,
show that if you spend a little time doing
"something for someone else," you’ll feel
less pressed for time later. Professor Norton
theorizes that "doing something for someone
else" shows us "that we can get things
done" and "makes us feel in control of our