Monday, August 22, 2011

Focus: Zen Habits' Leo Babauta

I have been so inspired recently with entrepreneur, Leo Babauta. He is the author/owner of the Zen Habits’ site. In the information age, he preaches a simple message. Simplify.

How welcome his message is in an urgent era of inescapable connectiveness. Just when you think you’re caught up, you’ve got ten people digitally informing you just how far behind you are.

Ironically, he has built his empire on connectivity, but he says, “I’m just one example of many people who have managed to do business online, have managed to stay connected, but who are able to limit the stream and make conscious decisions about how to be connected and how much information we consume.”

I’ve often, ruefully, imagined how much more I got done without the distractions of Facebook or other internet distractions.

Leo suggests a digital cleanse, of sorts. Gradually eliminating your streams of information, leaving only the essentials. He says that by limiting your stream to only the most essential information, you’ll free up more time for doing and creating amazing things.

I can’t tell you how exhilarating this prospect is to me. I often watch people with their all of their digital attachments, and wonder how we all survived 20 years ago.

He addresses the urgency we all feel to “connect,” and be “connected.” He says,
“Think about why we feel we need to respond to everything. Often it’s just a compulsion — we’re so used to answering messages that we have developed an urge to respond. Often it’s also out of fear: fear that people won’t think we’re doing our job, fear that we’ll lose customers, fear that we’ll miss out on something important, fear that people will think we’re rude or ignoring them.”

He says that most people unknowingly, perhaps, have a fear of not being up to date with important information. “There are always going to be opportunities we miss. But more likely are the opportunities we’re missing because we’re letting our days be consumed by trying to stay up to date. When we do this, we lose time we could be using to pursue exciting, real opportunities. “

But won’t something bad happen if I don’t know what’s going on? He says.
“This is highly unlikely. I’ve been uninformed — tuned out from the
news and other information I don’t want — for a few years now.
Nothing bad has happened to me. Instead, good things have happened
because I’m free to create, to focus on what makes me happy.”

I personally have witnessed the exact opposite. I have watched enough people, as well as experienced it for myself, that if I am too focused on what is happening on my computer, I will miss the things I need to attend to in the present.

I watched a lady today in the coffee shop I frequent who was immersed in her own digital world of texts and e-mails on her blackberry, that she didn’t realize that the drink that was called at the espresso bar wasn’t hers, so she cut in front of a large crowd of people. Nonplussed, and still texting she got mad when her friend told her it wasn’t hers. “They called tall cappuccino though, ” she said.

He encourages people to test his theory for a day or two. I know I will. I doubt the aforementioned lady will.

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