There is no creation without destruction, and the cost might not be immediately obvious.
Let’s talk about the digital age.
I am not the academic or scholastic type. I hated school. I barely passed and didn’t put much effort in. I was there to chill with friends, and because I had to be there. You want an enthusiastic student, talk to Dr. Bradley.
From 2003-2005, that had to change. I spent two years in Spain as a Mormon missionary, and my job was to serve and teach. Can’t teach if you don’t know anything, so my mission president implemented a rigorous study program.
I struggled with it at first, but eventually learned to love it. There were goals and milestones to reach, and with nothing else to distract me, I chewed the program up and spat it out.
Distractions these days are constant. Phones, computers, websites and apps have two purposes: take your time, and take your money. Sometimes simultaneously.
Back then, in the mission, we didn’t use computers more than once a week, and were very limited on phone usage. Distractions came in the form of thinking too much about home, about girls, about things I missed. Other than that, there wasn’t an instantaneous access to things I wanted, so it was easier to study and focus.
I killed that program in 8 months. When President Watson added a 5th level, wherein we had to memorize a ton of scriptures, I was among the first to reach it.
Our schedule required us to be up no later than 7AM, but I usually got up at 6, and sometimes 5, to grind when a milestone was close.
There were days when I couldn’t get started though. I hated missing even a minute, but if my thoughts strayed, I could waste ten minutes thinking about a letter from a girl-friend, which I couldn’t reply to until the following week. It sucked, but I whipped myself back into focus and finished the study program.
Now I’m beset by distractions at every turn. Some are relevant, most are self-inflicted. Damn this smartphone and every social network that I haven’t deleted. Damn blogging and texting and every project idea I have but can’t possibly tackle. Damn this scattered brain in my 30s, reminding me of the brain I had in my 20s.
Right now I am studying for part of my pending career change, and have reverted to many of the habits I developed in the summer of 2004, memorizing content for a certification exam. I have gotten better about the time I waste, but still have so far to go.
The digital age has created unparalleled opportunities for commerce, communication, and information. Speaking for myself, I have consumed this age at the expense of my focus and discipline. Maybe you have, too.
Be careful about the time you waste and the habits you develop. Set a goal and work toward crushing it. You will realize just how little time you have every day.
And maybe you won’t waste so much of it, like I do.