How "Turning Off" Creates Success

It’s been two weeks since we returned from our epic 46-day road trip. That’s 14 straight days of waking up in the same time zone, something I never thought I would appreciate.

If you snoozed for the last 2 months, my cofounder Martin and I traveled the country for our Discover Your inner Awesome podcast and had conversations with some of the brightest and best entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial-minded people.

People like:

and many more.

We gleaned a ton of wisdom from these folks, but do you want to know the two things I noticed the country’s most successful and happiest people do better than anyone else?

  1. The most successful people are GREAT at blocking off distractions

  2. The most successful people give themselves “me” time


Let’s dig deeper into this.


Blocking Off Distractions

How often do you find yourself ready to work on something (it could be at your job or a side passion project) only to have an email come in and screw it all up.

Very reasonably, you think, “Okay this will only take a minute to read and respond to.”

You read the email, and responding actually takes about 10-15 minutes. And in that time, another email comes in, so instinctively you decide to read that as well because who can stand to have unread emails in their inbox?? 


Before you know it, it’s an hour later and you haven’t even started on the actual work you wanted to accomplish.

The most successful people aren’t a slave to notifications. They actually--gasp!--close out their email when they want to get something done. They block off time later to look at their email.

And this isn’t just email. This applies to texts and other phone notifications too. One day in LA I was riding in DiPiazza’s car and he asked me to look up something on his phone. I noticed he had 87 unread text messages. 


            Actual Screenshot from Daniel DiPiazza's phone I asked him to send me today

            Actual Screenshot from Daniel DiPiazza's phone I asked him to send me today

He said he’s gotten to the point where texting gives him anxiety, so he just ignores most of it altogether.

Courtney Slade, Photographer and Adventurer with Under30Experiences, has removed all notifications from her phone, except for phone calls (cuz you know, emergencies and shit). You know what that means? SHE tells her phone when SHE’S ready, not the other way around.


How can you put this into practice immediately?


Yes, it’s totally fair to say, “But so much of my job is in email, I can’t not email!”, or “I work in sales! I need email to prospect!”, or “My coworkers need me! how can I not respond??”

So here’s what you do:

Start small.

I'm no saying ignore 100+ messages. I'm saying close out your email and put your phone on Do Not Disturb for 30 minutes. See how much more efficient you are. Scale up accordingly. If you’re in sales and need to send outbound cold emails, turn off receiving inbound emails while you’re prospecting. As for your coworkers? They will find out very quickly that the things they think are urgent aren’t actually urgent, and they do have more ability to figure out a problem on their own than they gave themselves credit.

At the marketing agency where I used to work, I can’t tell you the number of times someone emailed me asking for something purely because they didn’t want to look it up themselves. Sound familiar?

But you know what happened when I had email closed out because I was prospecting? I’d go back into my email an hour or two later and see one email with a request, then 20 minutes later an email from that same person saying, “nevermind we figured it out!”

As a rule of thumb: If it’s truly urgent, people will call your phone.

This year for me is a practice in gaining more focus, and I started by loosening the chains from email. Rather than start my day by logging into gmail and being reactive to others’ wants and needs, on most days I don’t look at email until two or three hours into my morning. I combined that with placing my phone on Do Not Disturb for the same amount of time. And since coming back from the road trip, I’ve pulled a Courtney Slade and all notifications on my phone are turned off. Contrast this to the days when I would roll over in bed and look at email on my phone first thing. The worst.

Now I'm probably 5-10x more productive.

And when the Idea Lemon tribe gets emails from me (hint hint--SUBSCRIBE!) and I ask them to reply, I do read and reply to every single response, but I block off time to do so. I don’t stop what I’m doing the second after they hit “Send”.

That started with closing out email for 30 minutes and building my way up. Now, I’ve detached enough that when I do see an email come in, I don’t feel compelled to take action on it RIGHT NOW!

That, in turn, sets the expectation with the people trying to reach you that you don’t spend your day in your inbox or on your phone. You’ll start to notice a steady decrease in the number of supposedly urgent requests, and an increase in people magically figuring things out on their own, and hell you’ll even have some meaningful phone conversations again.

By the way, this applies to social media and all those other apps too. Have you ever heard someone say the best day of their life included crushing through their News Feed?

Want to be happier and more successful? Want to dominate your job? Cut out the distractions. You’ll actually get shit done.


Leave a comment below with the one thing that distracts you the most.

Take care and be awesome today,