Seth Godin annoys me sometimes, but I read his blog every day because when he isn't annoying me, he is saying fascinating stuff that I don't see anywhere else. For example, this morning his entry was on Texting While Working. His argument is that if you really want to do good work, you do not fill your life with distractions: not with texting, not with social networking software, not even with snacks.
I don't think there's anything wrong with doing all that at work (in moderation). But not while you're working. Not if working is that the act that leads to the scarce output, the hard stuff, the creative uniqueness they actually pay you for.
You're competing against people in a state of flow, people who are truly committed, people who care deeply about the outcome. You can't merely wing it and expect to keep up with them. Setting aside all the safety valves and pleasant distractions is the first way to send yourself the message that you're playing for keeps. After all, if you sit for an hour and do exactly nothing, not one thing, you'll be ashamed of yourself. But if you waste that hour updating, pinging, being pinged and crunching, well, hey, at least you stayed in touch.
Friday afternoon, I allowed myself to become distracted by e-mail, of all things. I spent at least an hour dealing with notes that were not urgent. Every time management expert I have ever read says to set aside a specific time every day to deal with e-mail and deal with it all at once. I have never followed that advice because I LIKE e-mail. I enjoy checking it and reading it and responding to it. Unfortunately, while I am busy doing all that, it is so easy for me to slip into work habits that give me the illusion that I am accomplishing something, that I'm working hard, but the fact is that when I look back and reflect on my day, I have not. Self delusion is not a characteristic that leads to success. (MHouse)