Distractions destroy productivity and complicate your life. And you can’t blame others entirely for this. Tim Ferris, in his book “The 4-Hour Work Week” says that “Blaming idiots for interruptions is like blaming clowns for scaring children—they can’t help it. It’s their nature.”
Often times, too, our greatest distractions come from ourselves. So each of us must learn to be disciplined in how we manage interruptions and learn to protect our own time if we hope to get anything done.
In my blog “16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)” one of the ways I mention to do this is to turn off technology. Here are some helpful tips on how:
1) Turn off your email and phone for 60 minutes a day and focus on doing your most important work.
I find the best time for this is first thing in the morning. You can still take voicemails on your phone, but the important thing is that you have a solid chunk of time to focus on creative work, or work that requires some lateral thinking and brainstorming. Something I do that helps is put a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on my door/cubicle, and earphones in my ears. Even if I’m not listening to music, it prevents my colleagues from interrupting me with things that ultimately can wait an hour. (And in my opinion most “urgent” things can wait an hour.)
2) Stop looking at Facebook!
I know this is hard people, but if you need some extra help you can actually get simple programs now like Freedom that prevent you from logging in to certain sites between stipulated hours. And you’ll need to reboot if you want to get back online while Freedom’s running! The hassle of rebooting means you’re less likely to cheat, and you’ll enjoy enhanced productivity.
3) Turn all your electronic notifications off.
Other than calendar reminders, the rest of those notifications just create more anxiety and stress. Lose them!
4) Create your own email culture.
Tim Ferris is the CEO of a million-dollar organisation and checks his email once a month! How does he do it? Well, to cut a long story short, he has worked himself into that place over a long period of time by creating an email culture where he is able to DELEGATE, DISCARD or DEAL with emails immediately. He warns strongly against creating a “chat” email scenario where you end each email with a question, inviting back-and-forth conversation.
I am working at the moment towards checking my mail twice a day. And the more I do this, the more people get used to my system and learn to work within it. Generally I find most people are OK with receiving a reply as long as it is within one 24hr period.
Checking your mail constantly fragments your thinking, and is a huge productivity killer!
5) Don’t answer your phone every time it rings.
Record a good, friendly and professional voicemail message on your phone and trust it. You can always listen to the message and then decide wether the call truly is urgent, or if it can wait till another time.
6) Work in 90 minute cycles
Tons of science is now confirming that this is the optimal work to rest ratio.
7) Get comfortable with saying NO!
Every time you say “Yes” to something, you are saying “No” to something else.
Ok, well, I hope that helped. Now stop reading my blog and get back to work!!