Judith: Well, interestingly it’s not my clients it’s me. My challenge this week is switching off. Taking time off. This is something I never do. The brilliant thing about being self-employed is you can work whenever you like, and the downside of that is it strays for every waking moment. Your eyes open, you turn on a gadget, you’re still looking at gadgets as your eyes are closing. I know in my own case it’s an addiction, and I’m hoping in this two weeks to break the addiction. What I’d really like is to be able to re-establish a clear distinction between work, rest, and play.
The other thing I’m having a go at, which is very much related, is the lost art of single tasking. I’m a demon for multi-tasking and I know it isn’t faster. I read something recently in a book which I’m going to blog about soon, where somebody makes that case, and you remember somebody made that case for us years ago as well. Do you remember the you launched three projects A, B, and C – Which Makes Money Fastest, and the answer is none of them because you’ve got to focus on one and bring it to market, and open it up, and get it making money before you do B and C. I can’t single task anymore, and I am addicted to digital. It’s just not a good way to be, so the challenge is breaking the addiction and establishing new, healthier habits.
Nicola: It was Mike Filsaime; I still have the PowerPoint slide if you want me to pop it over.
Judith: I do. I know the one that that went to Mark Forster when he asked us that question I was the only one in the room to get it right. He said I was the only person who’d ever got it right, quite interestingly. Mike Filsaime, yes carry on.
Nicola: Tell me a bit more about this, because when you say multi-tasking I don’t think you mean multi-tasking, I think you mean multi-projecting.
Judith: Doing more than one thing at once.
Nicola: Business wise, more than one business or more than one project within your business? You don’t mean…
Judith: No, no, no doing one… No, no, any task. So, I’m on the computer, I’m not just doing emails or writing a blog, I’m also checking Facebook. You’ve got to just do one.
Nicola: I think I’ve largely mastered this but my biggest challenge is every time I try to write a blog post I have to go and check my facts. Then I end up on Facebook and then you get stuck.
Judith: I rest my case, that’s exactly, none of us can do it anymore. None of us can do it anymore and with good reason, which is the way gadgets work are designed for us to be able to do multi-taskings, exactly as you describe. Open another window, what do you call them? You know, these little gizmo’s on the bottom of your screen, what do you call them? Tabs?
Nicola: I call them icons.
Judith: But when you open another one what’s it called, opening a window, opening a tab, what do you call it?
Nicola: Yeah, well it depends if it’s an application or a tab, yeah.
Judith: Okay well there you go, okay. That’s wrong.
Nicola: That’s why iPads are quite good because they won’t actually let you have more than one thing open at a time. You have to consciously swap between them. The only thing is they’re quite hard to work on when you’re used to a computer.
Judith: They are, but actually my iPad, one of my rules over Christmas, and I’m on Christmas break day three or four and I haven’t achieved despite saying I would, is no iPads in the bedroom because after lights out, I can turn over, I can have a thought. The thing about an iPad is it feeds a particular addiction that I have which is, I need to know the answer to everything now. It might be I wonder what the best route is to such and such? I wonder if I’m too late to place an order for such and such before Christmas? I wonder what’s on television tomorrow night? I wonder. Whatever it is, however random and mad the thought is on my pillow, I’ve got to turn on the iPad and have a look because what it does is, I almost need my iPad, it’s like a third arm because I can no longer bear not knowing the answer to any question instantly.
Nicola: This is why I listen to a podcast to go to sleep, because I have a brain that is just like that. I found it the only thing that quiets it, I can’t just lie in my bed in the dark waiting to go to sleep; I just can’t. It just doesn’t happen. Either I start having horrible thoughts about spiders crawling across the ceiling, or I start thinking about something to do with work. I found listening to podcasts, especially soft Australian accent podcasts, it calms my brain down. It occupies it just enough and I’m usually asleep, literally, within 10 minutes.
Judith: My point is really more about the addiction. How tight a hold it has. One of my favourite films, you probably don’t remember, is called, Local Hero. It’s about this Texas oilman that comes from Houston to a gorgeous beach in Scotland and he’s trying to buy a piece of Scotland in order to have an oil refinery offshore and nobody wants it because they’re perfectly happy with their lovely, peaceful way of life, but he’s completely addicted. He has a watch that beeps on Houston time. He has to go to conference calls and it’s all go, go, go, go, go. What happens is, three or four days in, the Scots people play him completely and he’s rolling up his suit trousers and crabbing in rock pools . You see this beautiful scene at one point, we are only in the 80’s so it’s not very digital but this beeping watch is just left in a rock pool and he couldn’t give a damn anymore because he’s just moved on to local time.
I thought in two weeks off work that’s what would happen. I would stop caring about instantly replying to emails. I would stop caring about all those little red flashes. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m hopeful that it will. I really, really, really want to bring back single tasking. It’s something I’ve never been able to do in my adult life. When I had a day job, and we’re going back 40 years, you come home from work and people are coming to dinner so you start washing, cooking, and loading the dishwasher at the same time. We can’t do one thing at once, and I want to, it’s so meditative. I suppose that’s why I like reading, because you can only do one thing while you’re reading.
Nicola: Yeah, okay so the clue there is that he was somewhere else. I think perhaps that your thing – when you go out on a Sunday – you religiously go out on a Sunday with your friend don’t you? That is something that takes you away, perhaps you need to get out of the house, perhaps you just need to accept that you’re always going to be attached to your digital life because you said last week, “It’s the window to your world.” Perhaps that’s why you need the things because it keeps you feeling connected. Whereas, when you go out to the pictures, when you go out to events, when you go out with your friend, when you go to visit your family, when you go on your driving adventures, then you’re actually doing one thing then, aren’t you?
Judith: I actually think it’s a bigger addiction than that, because even when I do all of those I’ve still got the iPad.
Nicola: But do you feel the need to look at it though?
Judith: Yes I do. That’s the point, it’s an addiction. I want to know what’s going on all the time. I want to have my finger on the pulse. I want to make sure that something important doesn’t need my attention. It’s not even this millennium; it goes back to the last century when we were, relatively speaking, Dickensian. It’s about we’re always on. I think we live in the world of always on. When they invented the fax machine, I don’t know where you were in your career…
Nicola: In an office.
Judith: Actually it probably starts with mobile phones, I did have a mobile phone the size of a brick, a bit like Gordon Gekko’s. The minute we became that available, we were always on. I remember a colleague saying to me at the time, “When people send you a fax, they expect an instant return.” It’s the same with an email.
Nicola: I don’t feel like this I spend a lot of time at my computer but the minute I walk away from my computer I forget about it all. I got a mobile phone that doesn’t get signal in the downstairs of my house, so even if I’m in the living room nobody can call me. I really, deliberately, as you know, have made myself unavailable in the past and still have answer services and all that stuff so if people really, desperately need a phone number from me they still won’t get through. I know my predilection for that sort of thing. I just make big, fat barriers in between me and leisure time.
Judith: Nobody can phone me because I don’t give anybody my telephone number. We don’t have fax machines any more but it’s not just about people contacting me, it’s about me…
Nicola: Feeling the need?
Judith: Yeah, having a need for information. It’s not just me, everywhere you go, everybody’s head is bent down over their iPhone, or they’re trying to work and they’re flicking through their emails to see what’s going on.
Nicola: We watched a film the other day called Her – me and Phoebs – and it was really a nice one with Joaquin Phoenix.
Judith: Yes I know the one.
Nicola: He falls in love with this operating system.
Judith: Scarlett Johansson isn’t it.
Nicola: Yeah it’s a really, really good film, and it really takes that one step further. But we went out yesterday, Phoebe, Nelson and I. We were on the bus and we looked around on the bus and I said, “Phoebs, it’s just like Her.” At least 60 or 70% of people were bent over their gadgets. It was really quite scary to see them.
Judith: Yes and I think it’s worse than that in London because when I went out last week with my family, my niece and two nephews, two of them have jobs where their office would expect to be able to reach them 24/7.
Nicola: I think that’s outrageous. That is just outrageous that people expect that.
Judith: It’s been that way for quite a long time. It’s been that way probably for 20 years in London.
Nicola: Yeah I had a Skype message from a friend who is also a client the other day, it was on Sunday. He said to me something along the lines of, “Blah de blah de blah, Facebook ads, blah. What are we going to do over Christmas?” I said, “Tomorrow, I will as normal submit my report to you about what’s been happening the last week and my recommendations, but I won’t do it today because it’s Sunday.”
Judith: I have managed to do that with my Top 100 actually, who are required to send in weekly check ins on Mondays, and because there’s clients are all over the world, which means that one of them, for instance in New Zealand, is 13 hours ahead, hers comes in on Sunday and hers triggers off half a dozen people who want to send in theirs ahead of Monday. The one success I’ve had in this area in 2014 is, I put all of those in a file marked “one day reports” and I reply to them on Monday. I know I can do it. It is about client expectations. It is about information in and information out. I receive information, but also my iPad addiction is about wanting to know.
When we were younger, if we wanted to know something, you didn’t come to a workshop, you didn’t come to the last ever money gym workshop and say that you were poorly, it was with a property guy, he was an Aussie and his name was Phillip J. Anderson. He’s the guy that talks about the 18 year cycles, fascinating man, probably about my age. He said, when he was beginning his career, in say, it would have been the ’70s and ’80s, if he wanted some information in Australia, he went to a library …
Nicola: Yeah, the library was the place.
Judith: The library ordered it for him and it came in on a ship about six months later.
Nicola: Good God!
Judith: If I want information now, I just pick up my iPad and I’ve got it then. The fact is, we all want everything like that – now.
Nicola: Instant gratification, yeah.
Nicola: I think in some ways that’s a good thing. I think we also have to be very aware of it and guard against it.
Judith: I agree. I agree. That’s all I’m saying really. I think these are habits like any addiction, these are habits that can be addressed. Literally, everywhere we go in the world, it’s that, where’s the restaurant we want to go to? Where’s the car hire place? Where’s the ticket to get in? I went last week with my family to Southwark Cathedral, my brother had the tickets on his iPhone and there were people greeting us with iPads who flashed over that funny black and white square thing, what’s that called?
Nicola: It’s called… Oh, my God I’ve forgotten already.
Judith: Anyway all that I’m saying…
Nicola: Like a barcode square.
Judith: We’re in the cathedral and when we’re standing outside the cathedral, we had a guess as a family, how old is this cathedral? We sat there and we thought about it, and the short answer was, it started in 1100 and it was rebuilt in 1700 and something, but what’s happened now, to get in it, when my brother was getting out his iPhone, I said, “I wouldn’t bother with that if I were you. The cathedral is a 1000 years old – they’re not going to have electronic gadgets on the door.” Well, low and behold, they did.
Nicola: Okay here’s the thing, as I’m listening, I’m thinking, I don’t it’s a bad thing to look things up if you want to know, on an iPad. We regularly stop films to look things up.
Judith: Yeah, I know. I know.
Nicola: Because it stops the arguments you see. It’s stops the arguments, we can get on with watching the film. I think the distinction has to be is this for pleasure or is this for work? If it’s work, don’t do it. If it’s for pleasure, that’s fine, like reading a book on the Kindle on the iPad, that’s fine. Is it improving people’s lives? In the olden days, yes we used to find our way there without following a Google street map, but I used to get lost on a regular basis, and I used to be late on a regular basis. It used to make me very stressed on a regular basis, so I think if it’s a force for good, that’s fine. If it’s a force for pleasure, that’s fine. If it’s work or not good, don’t do it.
Judith: I think the difficulty with that is, if you open up your iPad to look at street maps, you can see how many emails you’ve got waiting and how many flashes you’ve got on all the various apps.
Nicola: You need to turn the notifications off then. I’ve got all my notifications turned off on all my gadgets because I don’t want to know. When I’m away from the computer, I don’t want to know about notifications etc.
Judith: I kind of do and that’s the problem. This is why this is my challenge of the week, because it’s a challenge, Nicola okay. I’m pleased you’ve got it sussed, I haven’t okay?
Nicola: I’m offering my solutions just in the hope that one of them might resonate with you Judith.
Judith: So far you haven’t offered me anything that would work for me. The only thing that’s going to work for me is, really having firm rules. Actually, I think it’s this, it’s the lost art of single tasking. You only do one thing at a time, sweet Jesus, and you do it well. Instead of having an eye on everything.
Nicola: Do you know what? I think I learnt this when everything went tits up, because I learnt the art of living in the moment. The art of just enjoying what I’m doing right now and being present I suppose, and conscious of it. Thinking, “Am I okay right this moment?” That’s what got me through – so perhaps I’m just not fretting about it because I do do that. Try that Judith.
Judith: Well, I’m an expert at that, but it doesn’t help with my digital addiction but thank you for reminding me of that.