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It might be time to reduce distractions and simplify.

Most of us have too much to do. We’re overcommitted and don’t know how to say “no.” The result of that can be that we aren’t doing anything very well. 

It’s taken me a long time to come to this awareness, but I recently decided it was time to simplify — reduce my distractions and spend my time better than I have been. Since many Civil + Structural Engineer readers are about the same age as me, I thought I would share with you some of the changes I’m making:

I got off social media entirely. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. Like many other people, I too got sucked into Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I tried LinkedIn early on but decided I didn’t like it soon after getting all the requests to join my network from people I had never heard of. After years of wasting loads of my time posting and reacting to those who reacted to my posts and my reactions to their posts, I have been completely out of all social media for about four months. And I can tell you, I’m more relaxed, my mental state is better, and I have more time.

I am selling off most of my old cars and motorcycles. At times I have had as many as 20 of each (though never 20 cars and 20 bikes at the same time). It has been a huge time drain for me. There’s always an ongoing project. Parts need to be located; something needs fixing; something always needs to be redone; something always needs to be bought or sold. It’s too much. And it is nothing but a huge distraction and waste of time. When I really look at myself, it has been driven in large part by my personal ego gratification. I don’t need the time drain and hassle of it all.

I am going to sell my big house with a pool and move to a condo. It’s crazy. It costs a small fortune in yard maintenance, pool maintenance, and utilities, not to mention constant improvements, upkeep, and property taxes (when I pay for my youngest kids to go to private school anyway). I don’t need a 400+-foot-long driveway anymore. A nice new condo close to everything will reduce my commute time and free up more time and mental capacity.

I am creating some phone downtime. This one is especially hard for me because being ultra-responsive has been such a big part of any success I’ve enjoyed, but it has to end. I must be better about paying attention to people and listening to them and being in the moment, versus constantly being distracted. I have ruined my own ability to concentrate on anything and completely justified the constant distraction that my phone provides. 

While these changes may hurt a little and annoy some of those around me, I’m confident that in the long run I will be a better person because of them — a better businessperson, mentor, seller, consultant, teacher, parent, friend, partner — all of those will be enhanced. 

Enjoy this issue of Civil + Structural Engineer. There is always something good in these pages that we can learn from. And have a safe and happy holiday season!

Mark C. Zweig mzweig@zweiggroup.com