The last two years has been the longest week EVER (a few ideas to help you get back on track)

No matter where you live in the world right now, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum, if you have an internet connection…boy has it been a week. To be honest…the last two years has frankly been the longest week ever.

Yeah…we’re coming up on the 2 year anniversary of lockdowns (at least those of us in the United States), and since that day we’ve been assaulted non-stop by one breaking news story after another. And it’s just exhausting. We’ve gone from a worldwide pandemic to racial unrest to political upheaval to now literally considering World War III. (I can’t believe I just typed that.)

I currently have a Ukrainian student in one of my Optimizer small group classes who’s entire family and all of his friends are still in Ukraine as we speak, and when he messaged the community saying “I’m just a guy who’s going to be slightly more unfocused this week,” I’d say that’s a massive understatement.

I think all of us are a bit more unfocused right now.

Without going down the political rabbit hole, I can unequivocally state I support the Ukrainian people in their literal fight for freedom and survival. While the circumstances are beyond tragic, a lot of inspiration can come from this David vs. Goliath story, and I pray that good can triumph over evil. That having been said, I also have students from Russia, and I too sympathize with them because it’s pretty clear to me that Russian citizens by and large do not support what’s happening right now and they are unfortunately caught in the crosshairs.

All of that having been said, the vast majority of you reading today’s newsletter probably don’t have friends or family in the middle of a war zone, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to stay on task and simply put on the blinders amidst everything happening in the world. I’m not going to pretend the resources I’m sharing below can completely transform your productivity this week or make all the bad stuff go away, but my hope is that I can at least help you reclaim a little bit of your focus and reduce your anxiety.

As someone diagnosed with adult-onset ADHD in my mid-twenties, I’ve spent the last fifteen years learning everything I can about how to better manage my focus so I don’t have to be someone who “suffers from” ADHD and instead someone who can harness it as a superpower. And amongst all of the books I’ve read, the podcasts I’ve listened to, the courses I’ve taken (and built), and the workshops I’ve led for creative professionals all over the world, what I’ve discovered is that productivity is not about apps, to-do lists, calendar power-ups, or anything fancy.

Productivity really comes down to having a purpose behind your actions and understanding how to prioritize your most important values.

If you find yourself getting sucked into the doom scrolling black hole this week (I was just as guilty as anyone else of this last week), below I’ve provided three of my favorite podcast interviews to help you avoid distractions, better manager your time in alignment with your values, and get back on track regardless of the noise bombarding all of us right now.

Redefining What It Means to Be “Productive” (and Aligning Your Values With Your Time) | with Tamara Torres

How to Become ‘Indistractable’ | with Nir Eyal

Becoming a ‘Digital Minimalist’ | with Cal Newport

Before You Go…

Given how important focus is to your livelihood as a creative professional, what is one small change you could make TODAY that can help you avoid distractions and keep on task, friend?

BTW…I read every message I receive, so if you’re hesitating to respond because you think it’ll just get lost in cyberspace, I promise I will see your message and do my best to respond.

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”