Focus. Or else. Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Thomas Lefebvre

Focus. Or else.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Thomas Lefebvre

Last week I wrote about focusing and asked you to participate in an experiment with me. The experiment was simple – go one hour a day with complete focus on editing. No music. No Internet or email. No cell phone. Here’s what I learned from it.

Willpower tested. Did I succeed?

Pushing yourself, no matter the task, is about willpower. Willpower is affected by thousands of things you do each day. Will you go for that cupcake? Will you get off BuzzFeed and work? Your willpower is being tested constantly. This experiment was about testing my willpower.

The experiment lasted for only an hour but the urge to check on the outside world was tremendous. I’d find myself getting edgy around 15 minutes in. A couple of times I caved and checked my email, Gchat and text messages. By the end of the week though I was able to stop myself by taking a mental step back, looking at the situation and realizing I wasn’t missing anything. I wasn’t perfect but I was better. My willpower bent but didn’t break.

Giving up email is liberating

I’m an Inbox Zero kind of person. Even with six different inboxes it still drives me nuts to have unread emails. However I strive to only check my email a few times a day. Some days are better than others. One thing is for certain though – not having your email up helps productivity. I don’t know where I saw this next quote I’m paraphrasing but I love it – “Your inbox is a priority list for others that often doesn’t match your goals.”

I am fortunate that I do not get a ton of work-related emails. Regardless, when was the last time you got an unexpected email and had you immediately react or “everything would be ruined?” It doesn’t happen. Try to let go.

I <3 music

Giving up music was by far the most difficult part of the experiment for me. On Day 2 I got myself ready for my one hour of focus. I quit out of Gmail, set a timer on my phone and put it on the other side of my desk then opened up Pandora to start working… Yeah. I caught what I did, turned off the music and (grumpily) started to edit. It was helpful though. I caught quite a few audio hiccups I probably wouldn’t have heard with the music on.

Music isn’t all bad though. It’s useful to “get you in the mood” to do something. A music hack I use is to play a certain genre when I’m doing different tasks. For editing it’s EDM-ish/techno-ish/dubstep-ish/electronica-ish. I listen to soft guitar or movie soundtracks for writing (right now I’m listening to José González). Country music is for cleaning. Driving is rock. For just simple enjoyment I listen to folk/bluegrass. If you do this enough the music will trigger your brain to get into mood of whatever task you are supposed to be doing – just like Pavlov’s dog.

I won’t stop listening to music while I edit. But when I need to focus on audio I’ll turn it off. Just need to reign in my willpower for it.

On Deck

So how’d you do? Try this out for a day or two and see how it feels. How much were you able to get done? Did your willpower last?

Can you do me one favor? Do you know an editor that could benefit from this post? Go ahead and share it with them. I want EVF to be a community where we can work together as video editors and this is a small step you can take to grow it.

I have a ton of cool things coming up for you. I’m working on creating some specific guides, some stock elements, exclusive email-only courses, more tutorials and more posts! Are there any questions or ideas you have about becoming a faster video editor? Let me know! Make sure you sign up to receive email updates for new posts at the bottom of the page so you don’t miss anything. Wednesdays are new posts, like this one, and Fridays are new tutorials.

I’ll see you on Friday with a new tutorial!