Social media is driving us mad.
Mark Zuckerberg has us addicted to our phones, and we’re losing a lot more than just our privacy.
We short-circuit our brains first thing in the morning with Instagram. Millions check Facebook multiple times per day. Others mindlessly scroll through Twitter.
Our attention spans are shrinking and our productivity is cratering.
We know this, and yet we can’t escape the addiction, often justifying it with work demands or imaginary emergencies.
What excuse do you make for going to your phone first thing in the morning?
“I have to check my stats!”
“Must see who won the game!”
“Just need a quick peak at the news!”
Digital distractions are killing your short-term productivity, and your long-term hopes and dreams are dying.
You’re behind on deadlines at work. Your sales are slumping because you have no time for strategic thinking. Your addictions prevent you from doing deep work; you’re not making progress on important projects (like writing that book you’ve dreamed of or drafting a business plan around your new big idea).
Things are even worse at home. Your spouse scowls because you’re not fully present when you’re with the family. You’ve even become short-tempered with your kids.
This is no way to win at the game of life.
It’s time I staged an intervention.
The solution is simple and obvious:
You need time away from your electronics. You need to stop letting the hum, flash, buzz, and tweet of your smartphone drive you mad.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
“Craig, this all sounds great, but how do I get away from my phone?”
I’ll explain in a moment, but first, a damaging admission. The truth is that I struggle with distraction demons, too. That’s why, since 2007, I’ve been building a “fence of rituals and routines” to protect my brain from temptation. This system allows me to do deep work daily.
That’s how I write 1,500 words—or more—before 6 a.m. every day for my new book and my weekly newsletters.
One of the best ways to build habits of steel like this is to harness the power of the Musk method—the very technique Elon Musk uses to generate his crazy ideas and to “figure out the tricky things.”
Musk is always asking, “What are people accepting as a standard when there’s room for significant improvement?”
That was my approach when figuring out how to become more productive and avoid the temptations of social media.
For example, people just accept that you must always have access to the Internet. But you don’t, and you shouldn’t.
That’s why, for 18 months, I cut access to the Internet at home. This “extreme measure” prevented me from going online and helped me build up my “digital distraction resistance.”
Each morning, I’d wake up at 4 a.m., sit at my kitchen table, and write for two hours before eventually going to the office where I had access to the web.
Many of those hours were uncomfortable, but the same is true of any new workout or project that requires discipline. You have to stick it out. How else do you expect to see results?
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of price.
Fortunately, we can find ways to “hack” the system and get results faster. That’s where Musk’s method comes in handy. Here is his three-step master plan:
First, Musk says, state the problem. Let’s say you want to fix your urge to “scratch that social media itch” immediately in the morning. I get it. For example, right now, at this very moment, I’m trying to fight off a problem. You see, I’ve written nearly half my daily word quota, and part of my brain wants to take a “quick peek at Facebook.”
Second, Musk says, gather evidence. I call this getting “outside eyes” through external observation and introspection. It’s always good to be self-aware—to know your temptation triggers. But sometimes, it’s hard to be conscious of behaviors that feed bad habits. That’s why you need an external observer to point these out to you. Your combined observations are your evidence.
[When you attend my workshop, I’ll teach you how to “watch the movie of your life”—in others words, how to see yourself in action with all of your good and bad habits in play. Knowing this will give you the opportunity to strengthen the good and eliminate the bad, making you better every day.]
Third, Musk says, develop a hypothesis based on “cause and effect.” Identifying the relationship between stimulus and response in your life is a massive key to success. For me, I recognize that any moment when I struggle to come up with my next sentence, I instantly open a browser window and start to mess around—or I pick up my phone and open the Instagram app.
Why? I need to feel I’m moving forward (or at least not frustrated by stalling out), so I go to entertainment that will take my mind off the task at hand, or I look for evidence that I’m not actually stalling out (affirmed by Instagram messages and post likes).
That’s why I’ve trained myself to return to clear-cut goals and a set schedule. In this case, it’s writing 1,500 words every morning. Why am I writing these words? To help my clients and build the ETR world. That’s what drives me more than almost anything else.
And so, I return to typing and before long, the ideas are streaming again.
A big part of my success here is having a plan in place. I know this is the structure of my mornings, so I don’t have any moment when I’m asking myself, “What should I be doing?”
Because that’s when distraction takes over.
If you get up with no plan in the morning, you probably have a 100% chance of going online. But if you prepare a detailed to-do list the night before (using the 3-step system I teach in my “Perfect Day Formula”), you introduce variable “A” and get result “B”—greater productivity.
That’s the Elon Musk Method for solving the Mark Zuckerberg Problem.
You can apply the Musk method to overcoming any bad habit. I guarantee it won’t be long before you have a simple solution for your morning distractions.
And not just for morning distractions—you’ll also be able to identify every weakness, obstacle, distraction, and temptation in your life and develop a plan to overcome each.
This is also what we do at my Perfect Life Workshops. We work together to build a plan that will destroy your demons and set you up to dominate your days.
The workshop is the perfect opportunity to set aside your phone and do a day of deep work and big thinking. It’s a game-changer.
After all, you know you are capable of so much more, so stop letting day-to-day distractions hold you back from the big accomplishments in life.