“You’re incredibly fortunate, Mr Foy. If you hadn’t have come into the hospital when you did, your life could have been seriously at risk.”
I’ve got to be honest…
There’s nothing quite like hearing these words from a serious-looking chap in a white coat while laying in a hospital bed at 3.30 in the morning, to bring your priorities into sharp focus.
And yet, there I was on December 23rd 2020, in Hull Royal Infirmary with an infected and ruptured colon, realising just how close I’d come to waving goodbye.
Needless to say, my family and I didn’t have quite the Christmas we planned.
Instead of tucking into the scrumptious food we’d planned, I was struggling to eat, well, anything at all. And I’d already spent 10 days at home before this in serious pain, not really eating anything, losing nearly 12 kilos in weight in the process.
Thankfully, by December 31st, after a massive dose of intravenous antibiotics and narrowly avoiding an emergency operation, I was safely back home, and under strict instructions to rest completely.
Having already watched all of The Mandolorian season two on Disney+, that meant cosying up with a pile of books, two of which were Deep Work and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
If you’ve ever questioned your productivity or wondered how your daily life might be different without the distractions of a growing swathe of social media platforms and a million other things, these books are must reads. I highly recommend you check out both.
Newport’s arguments are compelling….
It might seem trite, but I don’t doubt that he, and, let’s face it, my recent brush with death, made me realise I absolutely have to make the most of every day.
And so, I decided that in 2021 and beyond, the most important thing I can do to make the absolute most of life is to focus and remove any unnecessary distractions.
For me, that means carving out large chunks of time to focus on high-value activities that only I can do.
In practice, what does that mean?
For me, that’s two non-negotiable 90 minute ‘deep work’ sessions every single work day, where I focus solely on creating content and products to support aspiring course creators who want to teach online.
It’s amazing how much of my work day was typically not dedicated to this essential value that only I can provide!
But it’s not just about what I’m going to do—it’s also about what I’m not going to do.
That means resolving to remove shallow, low value, easy ‘busy work’ activities that suck my time and don’t serve me as well as I think they do.
My own starting point? Dropping social media like Facebook and Instagram and the alarming amount of time I was spending each day, worrying about finding stuff to post and share, and addictively checking for new ‘likes’, and before I know it hours have gone by and…. woah, what day is it again??
I also ditched many other easy ‘busy work’ activities that were giving me the false sense of achieving important things. I’m feeling much happier and focused and fulfilled at the end of the day. Result.
And so, as I bring this more sombre than usual email to close, I have some questions for you:
What are the high-value activities in your business and life that only YOU can do?
Are you intentionally organising your day to ensure they get done?
And what low value activities can you lose?