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  • Writer's pictureRobert Norton

My brain is stuck in traffic

For years, I've woken up forty-five minutes before the rest of my family to journal, read, and set my intentions for the day. Ideally, after quiet time, I connect with my daughter at breakfast, drive her to school, walk with a friend, or do some "deep work" like writing or creating content for clients.

But all too often, an insidious thief creeps in to steal my precious morning time—my email. Sometimes, even a cursory glance will lead me on a path entirely unrelated to my true priorities of the day.

Imagine my daily intentions as a few cars cheerfully setting out on a clear open freeway. With each email I read, another vehicle merges in, and the next thing you know, it's a traffic jam, and the horns in my brain are getting loud.

In other words, my email becomes my to-do list, and my attention splits into a dozen shards of want to/need to/must do.

You may have heard of continuous partial attention, the state we put ourselves in when we perpetually switch between tasks. This constant distraction impacts our breathing and, subsequently, our body's stress response.

So, as one of my New Year's resolutions experiments, I have been waiting until 8:30 to check my email. Each night I toggle the mail button off on my phone, and I don't turn it back on until the 30-minute window I have blocked just for email catch-up.

And while it has been an adjustment, it has had a tremendous positive impact on my morning.

What experiments might you try to redesign your day?


MindFrame, LLC delivers leadership coaching and strategic consulting to help leaders and teams make bold moves with confidence. MindFrame is based in the Greater New Orleans Area and conducts on-site and virtual services nationwide.

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