Stop Talking. Start Doing.

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Anyone who emailed me between November ’12 and January ’13 got this auto-reply:

Much as I love to connect, I’m in deep creation and pre-launch mode…aka “email is largely dead to me” mode through the end of Jan 2013 as I work to breath life into new adventures for the year ahead.

So, it’ll likely take a while before I can respond. I appreciate your patience. If this is genuinely an urgent matter, please call…

I turned that email off, but I’m thinking about turning it back on for the duration of 2013. I’m also considering expanding that ethic beyond email and into the way I commit my time, money and energy for the next 11 months.

Here’s why…

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a vast amounts of time in connection-mode, being fairly ubquitous across social media and attending and speaking at a lot of conferences and events.

My driving purpose was not knowledge, but rather people. I wanted to find and build relationships with people I just love to be around, I could help, and who could help me. All the better if all three categories folded into one, which they often have.

Connection is valid reason to invest energy and it’s been hugely valuable both in my ability to build my businesses, brand and impact and be in a position to help a lot of people do what they’re here to do. Plus, the friendships and colleagues I’ve come to know have added immeasurably to my life, regardless of professional potential.

Problem is, there’s an opportunity cost to hyper-connection mode; education and creation stall.

As last year unfolded, I started to notice something. I was losing my beginner’s mind. I had become less of a student and creator and more of a connector.

For some people, that’s fine. Not me. I’m at my happiest when I’m learning and creating. And even though, from the outside-in, there seemed to be a large volume of creation going on over the last year, truth is, I was holding on for dear life a good part of the time. Living and creating reactively with the time I had left over after connecting. That didn’t work for me.

So as I entered 2013, I decided to shift gears. To make this the year of immersive learning and creation and dial back on connection.

I bowed out of both attending and speaking at a number of events that had been regulars, but were largely about connection (which, again, I love), but didn’t also hold substantial opportunity for intensive learning. I still have a few connection-driven events on the calendar, but far less than I’ve had the prior few years.

I’ve rebuilt my calendar to compress weekly connection time. Instead of scattering it across the week, Monday is my connection day, with either Wednesday or Thursday afternoon designated as my connection overflow window. I’ve needed time to honor prior commitments, but by the end of February, this will be my nearly-inviolable schedule.

On the social side, I’ve begun “batching,” too. With rare exception, anything that happens outside my designated connection days will happen in an intimate group. So, if people are coming into town or friends want to gather, we’ll designate three or four nights or weekend mornings a month to gather where we can all play and rotate and smile and laugh and hug and eat and drink and relax. Outside these windows, it ‘s  all about education, creation, vitality and family.

Implementing these shifts has immediately freed up time to go deeper on my education than I’ve gone in years.

I committed to a private workshop with Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg, a leading researcher in “captology” or the marraige of technology and psychology to trigger and sustain behavior change and facilitate mass adoption (okay, you figured me out, planning to take over the world with digital love). I’ve become part of a group of 140 people who have inside access to the strategies and test data from a digital publisher who’s known to be on the cutting-edge of information marketing.

I committed to attend a 3-day conference on the intersection of Eastern philosophy, mindfulness and Buddhism with entrepreneurship, business growth and global impact. I’m not speaking which, to be honest, feels a little weird to me. I’m not used to being at events purely to absorb. But I’m also excited about the shift. And there will be more investment of time, money and energy in carving out more opportunities that elevate education and creation over connection.

I look at it as a natural cycle. You need to be out in the world to build the relationships that make life rich, allow you to serve and also help get the word out when you’ve done something worth sharing.

But if you’re always in connection mode, you cut so deeply into your ability to learn and create that you’re not able to birth ideas, products, services, experiences and movements that matter enough for people to want to share them.

You lose the ability to create on a level that allows you say “look, I did this,” have jaws drop and send people running to share what you’ve created in an expanding ripple of self-motivated evangelism.

One last thing – isn’t connection important for knowledge and creation?

Yes and no. At least for me. I benefit immensely from the exchange of ideas, insights and critique that allow me to learn more and create better. But, I also tend to get a lot more out of those exchanges AFTER I’ve already spent a lot of time in my own head, in the classroom, in workshops, in nature, at peace, in my own largely solitary creation process.

That may not be how your process works, but that’s how it works for me.

So, what about you? What’s been your primary operating mode?

Connection, creation or education? Is it working for you?

And if not, what are you going to do about it?

Share your thoughts below…

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60 responses

60 responses to “Stop Talking. Start Doing.”

  1. Jimbo Paleo says:

    I loved thinking of the dance and intersection of connection, creation and education.

    Finding that balance is certainly not easy, and as you demonstrate… it changes and moves and shifts at different times and phases of our lives.

    This article has got me thinking that I’ve been a little “short” on learning and new experiences recently, and for that I thank you!


  2. Isn’t it all about balance? It sounds like you were overbalanced in the connecting sphere, as it were. Now you’re cutting back.

    Personally I don’t have a phone. Even when I did, my phone message made it clear that I did not answer calls or check messages, and the best way to get me was by email or facebook. It was a learning curve for people but once they knew that about me, they were comfortable with it. The balance there for me is that I am uncomfortable talking on the phone; with other avenues for connection, why force myself to do something I find unpleasant?

    Right now my own blog is low-key and low-traffic so I don’t know what my balance will be when my email starts spiking. Like you, I think it is something I will be modifying as I go along.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Funny you mentioned your phone. I probably should’ve included that. Most people close to me know that I rarely ever pick up my phone and every push notification is turned off, especially when I’m in creation mode. I call back when the window is right, but I’ve been batching my phone time for years now.

    • Thank you for saying this. I’m another not-the-phone, please, person

    • I’m so not a phone person…very glad you mentioned this. I’m also usually best at email and Facebook (where I can hang out for ages!). I think I’ve been in creation mode all last year and I’m ready to connect. I miss meeting new people, gathering cool ideas, and seeing how we can support each other. I think it worked for me with creating as a relatively new business owner; I developed products and programs that I’m in love with and have really helped others. On the other hand, I felt lonely and isolated at times so now I’m ready to do more connecting…just not by phone!

    • David Ross says:

      Wow! This feels like a ‘gee, I thought it was only me’ group hug 🙂 I too, love connecting with people, but I really dislike doing it by phone. I think the truest, most honest communication can only come from a place of inner peace, so why force it?

      As for creation and connection modes, if I don’t force it (emphasis on ‘if’) I find myself moving naturally in and out of different spaces, where I am by turns at ease with connecting for a time, then absolutely NEED to have space to myself to create without any outside distraction.

      I used to feel bad for taking that time, but I’ve learned that that is when I do my best work, and I can only do that work if I give myself permission to take time for myself. Eventually I will shift gears again, when I’m ready, and I’ll move into a connection space again. But if I don’t take that creation space, ooh boy, look out; I’ll be a mess to be around and no one will enjoy connecting with me anyway!

  3. I crave wisdom education like I do food! I was starting to jones for your videos so I hope this doesn’t mean they are going to stop.

    I suffered from great feelings of isolation and depression previously so as wisdom education helped me rid my life of the delusion of separation I enjoy connection more as of late.

    For me, living inside my head was a defense mechanism I never felt safe in this world. Now that I feel greater protection, the creative process comes easier. There is something so sweet and empowering about surrender.

    Thank you for sharing in your journey and I hope we can all continue to do so no matter where it takes you.

    Your fan,

  4. Rose says:

    Hi Jonathan, what a great post! I’m in exactly the same mind-set currently, after stepping back and assessing why much of my working day felt a bit…well, flat. Even being a full time ‘creative’. Discovering that I wasn’t learning anything new and using my brain enough in a particular way that only learning facilitates (to absorb, grow and appreciate rather than strategise, connect, design, make and decision make based on what I already know!!) has been a revelation. I’ve decided to step away from the work bench and learn more in 2013. Snap with the connection time being limited to set days/times. Then what I can bring back to the studio and make (shoes in my case) I believe will be far a far more enjoyable process and therefore valuable end product. I agree it’s a natural cycle, and interesting that it’s happening early in the new year. Amen to that! Rose

  5. Thanks, Jonathan, for this thought provoking post! I admire the courage it takes to not only dial back on being “out there” connecting, but also to state it boldly in the public space. A lot of folks aren’t willing to step back because they’re afraid of losing ground. Yet without the time for input, inspiration, and creativity, the well for connection runs dry.

    As I planned 2013, I took deep inspiration from your 2011 annual report. Somehow, that process helped me see how to sequence my work and I suddenly realized that I had to take time–lots of it–for thinking, reflection, and creation. I’d always been afraid to spend that kind of time on myself (who knows why?). Now that I’m enacting my plan, I find that I’m not only more calm, but also more confident. There’s less rush and worry and more steady progress.

    I wish you many blessings in this period of your life and work!

    With love,

  6. Martina says:

    Jonathan, it is all a process and comes to us at diffetrent times in different seasons of our lives. If we realize that connecting, or any one thing is interfering with our growth then we should stop, assess and choose a new path.

    I am fairly new to social media, but have met some awesome people, made some very helpful and unexpected connections, and continue to learn.

    But as I grow, mature and change, how I deal with SoMe in particular changes. The media is the tool, the people and the growth are the point.

    Sounds awesome.

  7. I’ve been feeling the same tension and considering drastic measures also. I like the idea of Sabbath, and I think after my book comes out and I’ve connected with as many people as possible this year and part of next, I may go on a complete technology sabbatical. Thanks for saying out loud what I’ve been thinking. My life has consisted of a series of activities lasting no more than eight years before I needed to find beginner’s mind again.

  8. Allison says:

    I was in heavy learning mode last year and lost some of my connection time. So for me it’s going tht other way in a sense. But I also realized that connection doesn’t just mean with other people. A big part of my connecting is related to what I’m learning and then sharing it with others. So connection, learning and education and very intertwined for me… which is my ultimate flow condition.

  9. Tina says:

    Love this post… I started trying to find a better balance between connection, creation and learning several months ago when I started having problems with my physical health from “over connecting”. It’s still a work in progress.

    I’ve been thinking that I’m weak and weird because I can’t “do it all” as it seems others do. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, I’m so grateful to know I’m not alone… even if I may be a bit “weird”. 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this post it came just as had stumbled on the realisation that it’s important to get the balance between the three right. Seeing them as distinct elements of my process is a helpful way of giving time and energy to all three. It’s also made me think about where the focus needs to be just now. I know once I have been absorbed in the ‘education’ phase I like short burst’s of different varieties of connection in which the new learning becomes part of me. Followed by a long shot of creation interrupted by tiny bursts of intimate connections. Accepting this as true and living into it is a daily, weekly challenge.

  11. Richard Posey says:

    One of the smartest things I think you’ve done since I first stumbled across you via The Firefly Manifesto, was to cut back on your Twitter time. Twitter and other social media can be massive time sucks with limited payback (past a certain point). It’s tough to balance time usage and it requires a certain rigorous attention to one’s purpose (like you’re exhibiting now).

    I’m working on the same thing, requiring myself to fill out a timesheet of what I really do with my hours and days and weeks. I’m just starting this process to see how it works.

  12. BRAVO. So well said. In order to get my work done, I *cannot* deal with connecting on a large scale. In order to find compatible people and to get my ideas out into the world, I *must* connect. Balancing the two is an ongoing challenge.

    The sort-of-good news is that having done a fair amount of connecting, the core type of people I need to be in communication with has become clear. It’s actually a larger group than I can keep up with at reasonable frequency, so I’m finding that new “edge” now.

    Sometimes I long for a cabin in the woods with books and no internet. Yet without the connections I’d only be talking to myself (and wouldn’t be able to earn a living).

    There’s a kind of yoga in here: stretch, release, reach, rest; balance, topple, rebalance.

  13. Jen Gash says:

    I have been heavily in creating mode for about 4 months, and probably have another 2 to go. I love connecting with people face to face but in my steep learning curve, i realised that unless I had the infrastructure in place, my connecting was going to be limited.

    In April, I plan to emerge and start getting out and about and also start painting and playing more… that has been really missing lately:)

  14. Jonathan, thank you so much for opening up and sharing this with everyone here! Personally, it has really helped me in reflecting about this, I never really took the time to think about it:) After reading your post, right in this moment, I realize that I am in a learning through connecting with people and through having traveled across South America for the year and a half (Hope it makes sense:)). The thing is, my connection with people have been with people I have met from all over world. I have learned so much about just how much I still do not know. Except for a few events, I have not invested in connecting at a “larger scale”. As you mentioned, I guess I have really been enjoying the discovering and learning part, something for me to think about:)

    • Great content on your blog, Antonia! Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that we live in a time where we are not limited by distance; that we can connect with like hearted folks. Your blog content really spoke to me, my tribe is blazing a path the world over.

  15. Devin says:

    I just happened on your blog the other day by chance. I’ve never really been one to read blogs consistently. But there is something about what you say and how you say it. It’s all very purposeful and with an understanding of who I am and where I’m going. I’ve gone through so much over the past 5 yrs that I can’t even see the phases in my life. I feel like in many I’ve just been existing, mustering up enough energy to do this or do that, fix this or fix that, avoid this or avoid that. I think I’m missing out and just like the pebble that’s thrown in to the pond, I’m crazy if I think I’m only affecting myself. It’s everyone directly and indirectly around me. I’m not sure what phase I find myself in but I want to stop and find out. I don’t want to keep spinning in this circle, reaching for what’s out there but never quite being able to take hold of it because I’m in this constant spin cycle. I feel like I’ve been oscilating through life just looking for symptom relief. Consequently I never really go anywhere. I’m rambling. I will end by saying thank you.

  16. This is SO great.

    What is great is not so much the modes of ‘connecting’ and ‘creating’. What I love is how you’ve shown that we go through phases. And that we can be intentional about what we’re doing. Now is the time for connecting. Now is the time for creating.

    With that lens, we have so much more ability to direct our precious life energy toward what we want.

    You’ve modeled this with grace and style. I’m working in a similar vein, to have a year of less ‘out there’ and more ‘in here’ – here being my heart and art studio. It’s clear that’s what this time is for. Still, it’s hard to keep that focus. I will be using your article to develop structures and reminders this month to help me stay attuned to my focus.

    Aside from loving the structure of what you’ve shared, I love the content. I love what you’re working on. I love the intersection of worlds and thoughts. I love that you get to be a beginner.

    Finally, I love your generosity in sharing. Thanks for continuing to be a thought and heart leader for us.

  17. I enjoy your stuff, Jonathan — really love The Good Life Project. First time commenting. I was in Sports Entertainment 20 years ago. I created and performed a persona that reached an one-of-a-kind level of success in the field. The creative uniqueness of my success is still very much talked about today. Although I did not know it at the time (early-mid 30’s in age) and only came to realize it after I left the business and went on using my creative spirit as an artist and entrepreneur, the greatest contributor to my success was my ability to be single-minded in pursuit, not allow for any interfering connection with anything or anybody that did not serve my purpose of reaching my goal. Being totally selfish in that regard. Not giving one damn what was happening outside my world and the world of my loved ones that I was charged with providing a wonderful, happy life. I wish I had had a mentor at the time to better explain it to me. Because, and to be honest, when I first got out of the business and off the road and ventured into other pursuits, the worst thing I did was start making connection, paying attention to the world outside myself and my own goals. Once I began connections and interactions I began to compare my ideas, goals, and production to others’, where before I had never done this yet had succeeded wildly. Once I was comparing, then I was judging. Beating up on my own creative ideas more than others — others who had not a tenth of life success I’d already achieved. It was maddening to me, Always all the talking about ideas instead of just kicking ass and doing them. After awhile, I began to doubt the value of my own ideas. I squandered a large chunk of my time and energy on connections before I saw how debilitating it was to my productivity and, more importantly, happiness. It took my a while to regain my confidence and turn things around — by turning connection OFF. The great masters that we are all inspired by, they connect (and succeed) through their ART, not an AT&T connection. With all due respect, artists who believe their success is dependent on connections, as we are talking about them here, are only revealing their own fears. Fear of getting so connected with the making of your art that not even a nuclear bomb going off could distract you. Become ONE WITH YOUR WORK. THAT is the ONLY connection you need to succeed. I think not too far in the future many creative people are going to come to a similar conclusion as you, Jonathan. I think they are going to realize that all this connecting we feel a pressure to do is really disconnecting us from our true creative purpose and the focus we should always put there, first. Kill your connections. Kill your fears. Always Believe, Warrior

  18. Chris Reimer says:

    Jonathan, did you have any fears when unplugging and going from connector to creator? I read your email auto-reply and loved it. I want to enter a 2-3 time where all I do is create and learn, and NOT have to keep up with random email requests, etc. You might say, “Well, just do that.” However, ever since becoming a connector, and making so many amazing connections from which so many amazing things are happening to me, I’ve never unplugged. I’m fearful of what it might feel like, what things might be like when I try to plug back in… I know this sounds silly, but it’s like I don’t want to lose touch. Any perspective you can share on this?

  19. Lone says:

    Your title made me laugh, and reminded me of my version of this last year was “Stop Posing, Start Living.”

    Living for me IS creation, so thank you for sharing your process … and illustrating how too much ‘out there’ makes it hard to nurture the ‘in there’ and everything, good creations, ideas, projects, brilliance, starts on the inside.

    I like your addition of education, it feels like it’s a more conscious way /choice of “connection” rather than stewing in the often random virtual noise and looking for synergies.

    I will take your advice to heart, and get on with the creating. I look forward to hearing where you are at by the end of the year.


  20. Donna Martemucci says:

    Hi, Jonathan…
    I read your post this morning with mixed feelings. If “Borrow Your Brain” is not available in 2013, I will be so, so, so sad! Your ability to connect via blog, GLP and “Uncertainty” have been so powerful, that the idea of absorbing your insights one on one has taken on epic proportions in my mind! 🙂
    Having said that, I love that you are so brave and bold in doing what you need to do for yourself! I, like many others, feel the need to focus and gain clarity. Thank you for sharing your process – it’s beautifully written and I know it will be wonderfully helpful!
    Big thank you to Cynthia Morris, for the eloquence in capturing and expressing the feelings that I share! I particularly love “heart leader”!!!
    Best to you, Jonathan, Cynthia and all, in ’13…

  21. Zoe F says:

    When I left my job, almost 2 years ago, I was having trouble figuring out the baalance. I knew I was able to be very producive when I was working for somebody else, but I wasn’t sure how to do it for myself and to create time to get my own projects going. What I learned, which feels similar to what you are saying Jonathan, that if I turned off my phone, didn’t check my emails, FB, or Twitter for one hour, maybe 2, I was able to get so much work done – creative work – writing, thinking, manifesting. Then I would take a break – check email and various other connective tools. It was a shift for me as well. Your shift is on a bigger level, and it feels brave, but maybe it’s a goal I set for myself. Maybe instead of one or two hours, I do a day of no connections (YIKES!!!). That feels scary.

    Zoe F

  22. Kelly says:


    Thank you so much for this article, I absolutely LOVED it…I totally agree and this is where I am putting my focus on as well for 2013!!

  23. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, I’ve long admired your investigations into your own development (and the sharing), and how you remain curious and open to experiment and adjustment—and then reflection on the process. Beginner’s mind, hard as it can be to return to, is an ideal learning state, and one I aspire to. I think being a seeker, but on a conscious path, is a worthy endeavor.

    Hope this doesn’t mean the end of the Good Life Project, which has been a sweet blessing, and good fun too. Maybe I’ll give you a call and we can discuss it for a couple of hours? Oh, never mind…

  24. Liz Mahoney says:

    Jonathan, I so enjoy your writing and never more so than when you share as an introvert who goes out there but also, makes time to ponder, learn and refuel before going out to the world again. It is important to connect, but not all the time. Otherwise we introverts get all used up and for what? Your post this morning New Zealand time resonates with my purpose of “filling up” before having something worthwhile to share. All the best to you and thanks for doing what you do (so well).

  25. Christy says:

    Interesting. I’m about to emerge from radio silence after two years. I made the mistake of going completely dark, however. Good to know your network won’t let that happen to you!

    Can’t wait to see what you’re up to!

    (formerly xybrewer on Twitter, a long time ago)

  26. Ooh, tempting! I love the idea of the 2013 Out of the Office Reply, “Back in the office in 2014!”

    I (try to) set aside the first moments of the day for creating. Consuming (and connecting) can come later. Earlier in the morning, my brain is working more clearly.

    If you begin each day by creating, you don’t have the influence of others on you. You’re starting with a clean slate. There IS no one else out there yet, they’re not awake yet.

    I find that if I get started with that perspective, I’m much more creative and I’m much more my true self.

    Thanks for writing.

  27. Eva Papp says:

    Hi Jonathan. Really glad to hear you’re slowing down, which can be wretchingly hard to do, and getting connected with the flow. I’m in reverse to you, spent all time creating and educating, and now trying to launch it out. Glad you’ve slowed and not stopped, as I really value what you’ve had to say in support of us coming behind. Blessings. Eva

  28. Andrea N. says:

    Hi there Jonathan, thank you for your post – I always enjoy your content. I’m really interested in mindfulness and buddhism, as it has made me feel more connected to this world. I also love how buddhist monks/nuns embrace technology. I’ve been visiting buddhist retreats here in australia, meditating and attending conferences when I can. I’m very curious about the one you mention in your last post. Love to know what it is and who’s speaking etc. Can you send a link or name?
    Appreciating what you do in the digital world! Best, A

  29. ElizOF says:

    I’m glad you wrote about this because I have felt a strong pull this year to go inside; to observe more silence and do the deep work that my spirit is calling me to do. I spent the last 4 years being out there connecting, socializing and doing all the work that keeps us busy with people but leaves us with little time for quiet and self-reflection. I’m ramping down on some activities and while there are times I fight it, I have come to realize the quiet is necessary. Thank you for sharing your experience of it.

  30. Hi J,

    It’s a constant juggle and the rules change all the time. Love that you are changing them yourself. Like you (and all of us probably) I love all the modes but the education one is probably the most important for my health and well-being.

    I’ve been loving your Good Life interviews (esp. Leo Babauta) and am constantly inspired by all you are doing (and now not doing:)

    Muchas gracias!

  31. Paul says:


    You motioned a “3-day conference on the intersection of Eastern philosophy, mindfulness and Buddhism with entrepreneurship, business growth and global impact.”

    Is this a public conference? If yes, would you share the details!

  32. Sheldon says:

    Good For You! I’m considering the same action, but it’s tough when the platform is just starting. I hope you keep doing the GLP interviews. They are like manna for me.

  33. Hey Jonathan: It’s really interesting reading this post, because I am not ashamed to admit I’ve tried to copy many of the things you’ve done as you’ve built your career. I even dug back into your old podcast episodes where you interviewed folks like Chris Guillebeau and Charlie Gilkey for the first time. As I am a number of years behind you in terms of building an online business, I’ve had to devote a substantial amount of time to developing relationships with others online. But I see how much of an impact it makes — how much of a time suck it is. It definitely hurts with creating the work you love.

    I haven’t yet found a perfect system for balancing creation and connection. If someone offered me a perfect daily schedule/planner that balanced out different batches of connection time (i.e. email, twitter, FB, skype, in person meetings, phone calls) with creation time and revenue-generating time (in my case, client work), I’d probably pay big bucks for it. I say Charlie Gilkey should create such a planner!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hi John,

      Funny, that’s one of the big challenges I’ve always had with modeling others. Every successful endeavor is built around the synchronicity of the traits, skills and preferences of the individual and unique opportunities created by moments in time. It’s one of the problems I have with the whole notion of modeling excellence. It’s great to learn from others, I seek people to learn from all the time, but the path and approach has to be unique. You are amazing and original, own that, build around it, exalt it.

      And, yeah, I think Charlie needs to get on that. lol!

      • I guess the reason Charlie hasn’t made such a planner is because it would be impossible to create a planner that worked for everyone. For some people, 2 hours of creation time would be optimal; for others, 2 hours would drive them crazy (either too much or too little). However, I could see a planner which first asks what would be the ideal amount of creation time and ideal amount of connection time, then it helps you plan out your day, maybe in conjunction with a consideration of your peak creative times of the day.

        • Jonathan Fields says:

          Very true. He’s the first to tell you there’s no universally perfect system. The extraordinary value comes in providing a framework, then walking people through a process to learn how to customize that framework for their own needs and working styles. In fact, Charlie’s on the GLP Immersion faculty and that’s one of the things we do with the tribe over the 10-month window of time we have to work with them.

          • I’d like to take your GLP Immersion course one day. I remember when Charlie went to Mexico for your retreat because I was taking his Epic Product Launch class at the time.

            I was thinking about these issues some more this morning. My most productive and rewarding days are when I launch in to a couple of hours of client work in the morning. I feel so accomplished for the rest of the day that it helps me achieve more. I also feel more productive when I stay off social media and email and then batch connection time (i.e. responding & sending emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) in one big chunk, maybe around right before lunch when my energy is waning. I also am more productive on days I either work out at lunchtime or meet someone for lunch because I realize I have to get more done during the day. I can’t screw around.

            So, knowing these things about myself, I SHOULD try to structure each of my days similarly. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. In my mind, I think one day I will structure each of my days in this optimal format. But it would be helpful to have a tool, like one of Charlie’s planners, to help me remain committed to my “optimal day.”

            I’m sure some people prefer it the other way around – preferring connection time first, then creation time later. Or maybe they are most productive if they work out in the morning. No matter what is the optimal daily structure for each individual, it would be useful to have a simple schedule we can all use to help organize appointments, meetings and to-do’s in an optimal format based on our own strengths and preferences.

            Or maybe Charlie’s planners can already achieve all of this, and I’m just doing it wrong.

            Rob Hatch at Chris Brogan’s Human Business Works is actually doing a course now called “Work Like You Are On Vacation” which I think follows some of these principles. I haven’t taken it, but I’d like to at some point in the future.

            I’m going to send this thread to Charlie and see what he thinks. Perhaps the concepts are too involved to confine to one 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

          • Hey guys, I’m loving this thread and will return to it.

            John, the planners can cover these types of things – the Daily Action Planner is great for managing daily energy rather than projects, which is why many people pair it with the Weekly Project Planner. You’re not doing it wrong as much as I haven’t explained it well. Thanks for the reminder.

            And, of course, I’m working on something. Anyone have $50k so I can get it developed? :p

            Jonathan, I’m really looking forward to explaining this better for GLPers this time around and helping them roll their own system. Let’s definitely chat about what we can do to make sure it happens, with a combo of up front teaching and some in-shop time.

          • It’s funny you mention the weekly planner. I stopped using it early last month and it really hurt my productivity. I was using the daily planners but I didn’t feel – or see – as great traction as when I used both the daily and weekly planners in conjunction with one another.

            It sounds like I need to think about my approach to the daily planner in a different way, and see about using it to harness and focus my energies. I currently use the daily planner more for discrete tasks. One thing I really like about the daily planner is the different sections of it which allow you to look at your day through different “lenses” – in terms of prescheduled appointments, in terms of ongoing projects, and in terms of sudden items that come up during the day. I need to throw into the mix my own circadian rhythms.

            I’m going to search around my sofa cushions this weekend and see if I have an extra $50K stashed in there – if I do, it’s all yours. : )

  34. Cheval John says:

    Education: Not the higher education. I’ve already done with that. The reason is because I want to learn new things on my own that will help me to be more successful in my personal life and my business so that I can help people to succeed.

  35. Jonathan Fields says:

    Hey gang – Not to worry, Good Life Project is my main focus these days, it’s not going anywhere. In fact part of the reason I’m pulling back on the connection side is because there’s some very cool new stuff that I need the time to create under the GLP brand umbrella this year. So stay tuned, lots more GLP fun to come in the year ahead and beyond…

  36. Shyaam says:

    Hello Jonathan

    A great post!!! I have been following Your posts for quite sometime and I would like to say they are really really good.

    Thank You for sharing 🙂


  37. Robert Chen says:

    That’s great Jonathan.

    Without creation, there is no outlet for all your knowledge.

    Best of luck to you!

  38. Ian says:

    Jonathan, I’m mighty glad you “connected” with your community to write & send this post. There are no so many avenues for connecting, particularly virtually, and it can be time vacuum. I love Jesus example who, when the crowds were wanting more of Him, would retreat to spend time with the Father and His disciples. He couldn’t have done what He did if He had been always “connecting”.

    Can’t wait to hear the outcomes of the Stanford workshop/study. I’m pleased you’re emphasising your learning as your community will benefit through your generous and gracious sharing.

    Bless you Jonathan as you step out in 2013…


  39. Mike Rudd says:

    Nice post Jonathan! I hope this doesn’t mean you won’t be speaking at WDS 2013 in Portland?! Very much looking forward to hearing that.
    I sometimes worry and think that I’m not spending enough time connecting on social media and email b/c I tend to focus on creation and face to face time as much as possible but I realize you need to balance the two and the more you can create and help others eventually the connecting comes along with it. Thanks for the good read this morning!
    Mike aka Marketing Fun With Mike

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Mike – Not to worry, WDS is actually one of the events that’s still central to my schedule. See ya in Portland!

  40. […] Stop Talking. Start Doing. Most of the things we think of as “important” in a given day are really not all that important. They are urgent, though, so we often let them get in the way of the things that are genuinely important (that happen to not be urgent). For example, we read through piles of relatively unimportant email in the process of (@ jonathan fields) […]

  41. Cat says:

    I do what you’re doing but by turning off my phone for a weekend. Or a week. I usually text my mom and say something like “turning off my phone for a few days” so she doesn’t lose it and come looking for me, but then I get that chance to relax and think.

    Then of course the second it gets turned back on I have to update twitter, facebook, blog, etc.

    It’s hard to stay organized (especially with a blog) and center your thoughts and manage to stay away from the computer.

    🙂 Nice post. Good luck!

  42. […] Fields about connecting or creating? That’s a question that I find myself often thinking as both of them are important but can’t […]

  43. […] you have been talking about or dreaming about for a long time.  Jonathan Fields wrote about “Stop Talking. Start Doing.“  The post detailed his disconnection from email and ‘connecting’ so he could […]

  44. Phil says:

    I’m obviously a very simple soul.

    My motto is “Learning is the price we pay to stay alive”. So I seek to learn something from every single person I meet and every thing I do. That means that the idea of putting time aside to get educated is completely alien to me.

    But, hey, if you needed to make a change in your life and it worked for you, then I’m glad for you

  45. Rob says:

    A model to aspire to Jonathan, one very similar to one I’ve deliberately adopted for not dissimilar reasons almost 18 months ago. It very much works for me and I firmly believe I am able to give much more of myself to those that matter.

    Primary mode is self-directed education and focused creativity to apply insights as a natural bi-product from learning activities.

    Digital connectivity is a strict 2 x 1hr a day with none before noon and, like you, personal connections limited to specific and sacred windows.

    Good luck – look forward to hearing about your journey through 2013!

  46. Hi Jonathan

    I love your distinction: connection, creation, or education. During the last 18 months or so, my primary operating model was the last of the three, i.e. education.

    Wanting to up the ante on myself and how I work, I committed myself to working with a coach and it was an awesome ride. I suppose I’d imagined before I started that I’d be able to stay as online as I had been before that point, but that simply wasn’t the case. Development, for me at least, felt like it was a much more introverted than extroverted activity. And I felt like I could do all the reading and work I’d undertaken to do, and all my paying work, while also being actively on social media.

    A number of folks nearest to me said I should write about my experience while it was ongoing. But I found that difficult. When I’m in deep development mode, it’s an emergent thing and not something I feel I can put words to in the moment. I might be able to make sense of some of the things I learned now, but while I was “in process…?”

    Some of my connections did suffer from having been away and in many, many respects I am having to build afresh. But, in addition to all the other wonderful things I achieved over that time, the time away taught me to value my own creative process more, and even now I’m not on social media in the same way I once was.

    It’s an interesting balancing act – thanks for sharing how you’re living yours!

  47. […] in the corporate world, and then I took a 2 year hiatus from blogging for reasons unknown but this post from Jonathan Fields on ‘stop talking and start doing’ probably explains it […]