It’s one of the hazards of spending social time online.
Every day, everywhere you look, you’re going to find someone who’s doing it wrong.
They use the term “rock star.” Or “ninja.” (You hate those hypey cliches!)
They have a pop-up on their blog. (Don’t they know pop-ups are the work of Satan?!)
They had a launch last week and emailed you three whole times. (Don’t these people realize how full your email box is?)
You ping around from site to site, getting increasingly crabby as the entire internet conspires to get on your last nerve.
I have a gentle suggestion.
It’s time to get over it.
The goldfish attention span
We all know it — distracted by the mashup of content and trivia and advertising that comes to us from all directions, our attention span has shriveled down to about 15 seconds. (That puts us on a par with goldfish. Way to go, human race.)
So to get your attention, particularly on the web, people do and say things that are outrageous.
We get posts about how content marketing is broken. Or social media marketing won’t ever work. Or that every time you try to sell something to a customer, a baby unicorn dies.
And it’s all very entertaining. As long as you understand it for what it is — a bit of linkbait to capture your attention for a minute and create a little controversy.
Now we like linkbait just fine at Copyblogger. And I’ve been known to make a few outrageous statements of my own.
But know them for what they are — distractions. And if you want to actually build something worthwhile, you need to be careful about how you manage distractions.
Drama queens rarely build thriving businesses
All the time you spend chasing down things you hate and ranting about them?
That’s time you’re not building something epic.
And being known as the person who pitches a fit three times a day is doing exactly nothing for your authority.
You may get a lot of attention for being so entertainingly easy to irritate. You may have a great sense of humor, and a fantastic turn of phrase. Your charmingly cranky video rants may get one billion hits on YouTube.
But attention is not business. And unless you’re as good a businessperson as Perez Hilton, becoming part of the Distraction Revolution is not likely to make you any money.
Do this instead
There are people who are going to tell you to turn off all distractions, refuse to use email, delegate social media to an $2-an-hour virtual assistant in Mongolia, and work in some kind of state of undistracted purity.
I don’t live in that world and neither do you. But you can actually take control of your time without turning into a digital puritan.
The first thing I want you to do (oh, this is so un-sexy) is decide what gets you closer to what you want.
- Is it creating content for your autoresponder?
- Working on the big product that kind of scares you?
- Brainstorming headlines for your new landing page?
- Actively promoting your webinar instead of hoping someone out there will tweet about it?
- Writing a longer, more serious blog post that becomes a cornerstone for your site, instead of a half-dozen rants that take ten minutes to write and are about as quickly forgotten?
Here’s a hint about how to identify this: It won’t feel nearly as comfortable as bitching on Facebook about what’s getting on your nerves today.
The second thing I want you to do is to carve out an hour today (ideally, that starts right now. Don’t tell me you can’t — you were going to spend the next hour reading blog posts and twitter anyway) and work on the Big Uncomfortable Important Thing.
If you don’t have an hour, spend 20 minutes. And put an hour in your schedule for tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.
Use a timer. Work up to the full hour if you have to.
Because Big Uncomfortable Important Things are uncomfortable, you will immediately be tempted to go complain about something on Google+. Therefore, you need to turn off your distractions of choice.
Not all day, don’t panic. Just for an hour.
(Yes, your mobile, too. If you are not a brain surgeon, they can wait for you for an hour. Tell them you were in the toilet.)
Work on something important for an hour every day, without distractions.
If you’re smart, you’ll make it the first hour, before the time vampires suck all the remaining life out of your day.
I realize this is not as much fun
Trust me, I enjoy griping on the internet at least as much as the next person. Probably more than the next person.
Let’s face it, those people are irritating.
But an hour a day, every day, in pursuit of what’s actually important to you (heck, you might even ramp up to two hours some day) is going to bring you a lot more reward than the smackdown you were in the middle of when you started reading this post.
Get it done. Start now. Believe it or not, it’s even more satisfying than being right.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. As long as you’re not complaining about anything, she’d love to hear from you on twitter.
Post image courtesy of the incredibly fabulous xkcd.