I’m a stats fiend. I’m also a “checking” fiend. I check all kinds of figures in my life relentlessly. I’ll weigh myself every single day. If I go to the gym I’ll know exactly how much weight I’m lifting, for how many reps, etc etc. I’ll know the last score I got in a video game I played with my son or the last score of the last set I played in tennis. I’ll recognize if I was more out of breath during a boxing lesson in one week as opposed to the last. When it comes to work I’ll check my earnings every day. Since I own websites I’ll look at my traffic stats daily, even worse, I’ll check out the live stats practically every single hour. I check my phone way too often (like all of us do). The point is that I think I overly “check” things and it 100% interferes with productivity in both life and business. It’s one thing if checking is in fact productive (which it rarely is), but it’s another if you do it so much you’re actually losing life. And think about it, if you’re losing time that you could have spent doing something better or more healthy, then you’re damned right you’re losing life. So this week I’m putting myself (and you) to a bit of a challenge. See if you can go an entire week with only “checking” things 3 times a day. And there’s a reason I’m choosing 3 times a day. I personally think that going cold turkey is actually counter productive. It’s almost like asking a heroin user to go completely without drugs after having used every day for the last 10 years. It’s simply not going to happen not to mention will be unbelievably destructive. Three times a day gives you a nice buffer where you likely won’t suffer withdrawal and at the same time you won’t necessarily be wasting time. With regards to what you’re “checking” that’s obviously for you to decide, but I would likely choose things like checking your phone, your email, any kind of metrics that update by the hour that you really don’t need to check by the hour, that sort of stuff. Now, I can guarantee anything but I have a very likely guess as to what’s going to happen when this experiment is over. I think you’ll find that:
1. The outcome is likely the same regardless of how much you check
I’ve done these experiments before so while I can’t speak to any of you I can certainly speak about my own experiences after I’ve gone on a “checking” cleanse. Speaking strictly from a business standpoint, 99 times out of 100 where I’ve made a conscious effort to check things less I find myself happier, more productive, and even more engaged in what I’m doing at the moment that I’m doing it, but we’ll get to that. 99 times out of 100 I’ll find that whether I “checked” or not, whatever was supposed to happen, happened. So if I checked something 5 times in 6 hours or 100 times nothing would have gotten in the way of whatever situation arose. The only difference if I checked way more times is that perhaps I could have gotten to some problem a tad sooner. Or maybe I could have found out the good news a tad sooner. But the actual good or bad news was going to happen either way. One of my favorite quotes of all time is “worrying about something will never change the outcome.” In the same breath, “checking something will never change the outcome of anything” either. Once you realize this you might just resist the urge to pointlessly check your crap all day.
2. You’ll have gained way more minutes than you realized
When I actually went through this experiment I realized that I was wasting a whopping hour to hour and a half PER DAY checking stuff. It’s almost scary that this was the case. That’s like when you actually calorie count the shit you eat all day and realize that you’re easily 1000 calories over where you thought you were. Think about this for a second. Do you realize how much an hour to an hour and a half a day is? We’re talking 7-9 hours a week of wasted time. Multiply that by four or five and you’re looking at an entire day wasted each month and 12 days wasted per year. If only I could get that time back, I sure has hell wouldn’t have spent it starting at a screen waiting for an email to come in or finding out if I made an extra 3 bucks in the span of an hour. Most of you might even be too scared to find out how much time you’re wasting but once you do you just might be liberated.
3. You’ll likely be more in touch with yourself and those around you
When you’re not fixated on checking things you’ll be more engaged with the world. That much I can promise you. Because often times all that time wasted becomes time well spent. For me that time tends to be with family and friends. The more time I’m engaged with them the better I feel about me. And it’s not just spending time with people I’m talking about. I’m talking about being alone with myself and my thoughts. I can sit and stare at a tree for 5 minutes. I can take a swim in my pool. I can play piano. I can do ANYTHING other than pointlessly check something. All of these things contribute to me improving myself. All of this from simply resisting the urge to check something that doesn’t need checking in the first place.
4. It has the “vacation” effect
This goes along the same lines as the “outcome” effect up above. Ever take a vacation and before you leave completely freak out that your life is not going to be the way you left it when you get back? “What if I left the toaster on?” “What if something catastrophic happens in the office?” “What if I miss my emails?” God forbid you relax and forget about all of that. What happens 9 times out of 10 when you return from vacation? You realize that life is in fact the same, and that all the catching up you need to do actually takes very little time at all. The point is that life was waiting for you the whole time and was right there when you got back. The outcome never changed regardless of you taking time off, just like it’ll never change if you stop checking things.
Can you keep it up?
Therein lies the true challenge. It’s a challenge I face every single day. How much can I avoid checking? Again, I’m not saying you have to stop altogether. There’s nothing wrong with a teeny tiny security blanket in our lives. But I personally think that checking more than 3 times a day is where things become problematic. If you can stomach checking once per day, more power to you. But seriously folks, give this a real shot for a week and see what happens. I can all but guarantee you’ll be better for it.