Something I write about frequently is productively, specifically as they relate to positive habits. Reason being: I have a lot of interests, and in order for me to continue doing all these different things I love so much, I need to be aware of how I spend my time. I write books. I make music. I consult for startups and big brands alike, helping them understand how to effectively market themselves online. I work with serial entrepreneurs, executives, business owners and more, teaching them the value of building a personal brand. I do a lot, and so I have spent as much time "doing" as I have refining the act of doing to the point of maximum efficiency.
I treat my time very seriously. It's my most valuable resource.
What I have learned over the years, specifically when it comes to feeling frustrated--whether that feeling happens when you're sitting in your chair at work, or you're in your apartment grinding away on your side-hustle--is a difficult one to place. In fact, more often than not that frustration is masked by something more easily recognizable. You think you're frustrated with your job, or the task at hand, or the people you are working with. And while sometimes that might be the case, after years of carefully watching this feeling I have come to learn that it's really only the tip of the iceberg.
When was the last time you felt "in flow?" What I mean by that is, can you think of what you were doing when you felt completely "in the moment?" When time stopped and hours passed without you even realizing it?
That's the ideal state everyone is looking for. In fact, if you can get yourself into that state on even a somewhat regular basis, you will feel a sense of deep fulfilment so many people spend their entire lives looking for.
Ok, so what is that feeling? And furthermore, when you're in that state, doesn't it feel like anything is possible. Don't you feel completely at ease?
Frustration is the last thing on your mind.
What I have learned (since I have to get myself into this state on a daily basis in order to write and create effectively), is that getting into this state comes down to one thing and one thing only: the removal of distractions.
I can think of countless occasions where I felt aggressively frustrated. And in the moment, I thought it was the work I was doing, or the environment, or the people I was doing it with, or the task at hand.
But the truth is, those things were really just masking a bigger problem.
And the bigger problem is not being in touch with "this moment."
If you are feeling frustrated at work, for example, here's what I challenge you to do. Stop what you're doing. Turn off your computer. Turn off your phone. And stare out the window.
Because what a lot of people do when they get frustrated with one thing is they turn to another device or thing to distract them further. They get frustrated with what they're working on while staring at their laptop, so they pick up their phone. They get bored with their phone, so they turn on the TV. The TV didn't fix anything, so they go back to their laptop. And round and round and round they go, until eventually they decide that all hope is lost and their life is horrible.
Dramatic, I know. What's more unfortunate is how many people genuinely think this way.
What staring out the window has taught me is that we love to distract ourselves. It provides temporary relief, but does very little to solve the actual problem: this feeling of frustration.
However, what staring out the window also does is it forces you to return to this moment. You can't check your email (for the 187th time this hour). You can't scroll yourself into oblivion in Instagram. You can't watch cat videos until you're sufficiently braindead. You are forced, forced, to sit still and just stare out the window. You are forced to ask yourself, "Wait, how do I actually feel right now?"
Do this for five minutes and you will notice a dramatic shift in yourself. You will become more aware of how you feel. You will become more connected to the moment. You will realize how frantic you had felt chasing notifications on 17 different platforms at once.
Stare out the window for ten minutes and you'll notice an even bigger shift.
By fifteen minutes, you will start coming up with new ideas. You will start to think to yourself, "Wait, what if I did this? Maybe this could work." You will inherently start moving in a different direction because you have connected yourself back to the present moment.
And if you make it to the twenty minute mark, you will wonder why you ever felt frustrated in the first place. You will feel re-inspired to approach your work, and you will do so with a newfound sense of clarity.
All because you removed distractions for a long enough period of time to give yourself the freedom to feel how you feel.
That's the key.