Suppose you could add an extra two hours to every day: what would you do with your time?
Would you take up a new hobby? Spend more time with friends or your family? Learn a new skill? Or simply give yourself more time to relax?
In imagining how you’d spend an extra two hours, magically grafted onto each day, pay attention to what you don’t add. You probably wouldn’t add another meeting at the office or extra emails to respond to. I doubt you’d add more time spent browsing on your phone.
Yet, for most of us, we already spend far more than two hours per day on activities we wouldn’t add in if more time had been gifted to us.
We’ve already gone some way to explain this seeming contradiction:
- Our attention is under the sway of powerful instincts developed for a different environment than we live in.
- We equate productivity with effortful exertion, mistaking the feeling of busyness for actually spending time on things that matter.
- We don’t know where our time actually goes, so we can lie to ourselves about how much of it is on activities we don’t care about.
Cultivating a life of focus requires creating deliberate systems to turn back some of these forces. Good systems work in the background, silently adjusting your attention to the categories you deem most worthwhile in your life.
Creating these deliberate systems, unfortunately, requires an investment of more than just reading. When creating Life of Focus, Cal Newport and I were motivated to provide structure, accountability and an opportunity to work on building these systems. There is no overnight fix. That’s why the program runs for three months, as we slowly build up new habits.
On Monday, we’ll reopen Life of Focus for a new session. Before we do, however, I’d like to ask you to earnestly consider what you’d do with an extra two hours per day. Write your response in the comments below!