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  • Attention Please! How to Increase Your Productivity

    Posted on July 16th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk 1 comment

    Yes, you too can avoid distractions and get more done in less time. According to a study from the University of California-Irvine, people switch work tasks approximately every three minutes, switch projects every 11 minutes and require up to 23 minutes to return to a task if interrupted. Those are some interesting statistics when one thinks of their personal work day. It comes back to Multi-Tasking not being about doing more things at once but doing one thing and then skipping on to the next, like a stone skipping on the surface of the water, you never really get to get involved deep enough mentally to commit to making a positive change in the work you’re performing if you’re constantly switching tasks.

    You may have the idea that most distractions are external. However, the research also found that nearly 44% are self-initiated, and these distractions are found to stem from anxiety in four major areas, that affect most everyone: money; time; relationships; and decision-making. The study shows that when we’re feeling stressed we have trouble focusing and waste time on non-value added behaviour, such as excessive e-mail checking or taking that third five minute break to catch-up with your Facebook news feed.

    To avoid this, as I have caught myself several times over the past few years in this situation, I have set times during the day when I read and respond to emails. I also turn off message and IM alerts and have downloaded the necessary apps on my smart phone so I can checkup on my social media accounts anywhere, the key is to limit myself to once per day I prefer checking email in the morning after my daily 5 min goal setting routine & calendar review, just before lunch around 11 AM and near the end of the work day prior to my daily 5 min progress review in preparation for the next day.

    There’s also the classic “Time Thief” that adds to the mix. You can avoid letting others hijack your time with phrases like: “Do you have a minute?” Most of the time my response to this is “one moment please.” and then I ask if a minute will do the trick or if we should schedule a meeting. This technique weeds out the “Time Thief” from the people with a legitimate issue.

    Leveraging the daily, or weekly, “scrum” meeting so employees & co-workers know when they’ll have a chance to discuss issues with you helps them feel less inclined to interrupt your time. Another technique that I’m a huge fan of is empowerment, if you train your employees, if you have them, to make decisions on their own, and hold the scheduled scrum meeting(s) to ensure that the organizations goals are being worked toward in the most efficient way possible then you’ll free up more time within your day to focus in deep on hitting the big fish with those rocks you were skipping.

    It doesn’t really matter when you perform these tasks during your day, just as long as you set a schedule and stick to it. Doing this type of time compression consistently and keeping to it until it becomes routine will allow you to get more done in less time.