These days, technology is meant to help us to work smarter, not harder. But this is only true, if we have already built up the productivity habits.
What does it mean for you to work smarter and being productive?
When I think about productivity, my mind goes immediately in the direction of interruptions.
How many interruptions do you have daily and what distracts you from work?
Interruptions and distractions impose heavily on our ability to organize work schedules.
Not only is there the actual time lost through the interruption but, more importantly, the effort of getting back to the original task and re-focusing attention. The extent to which we are distracted from our work has become much more acute in recent years as a result of technological advances. We live and work in world where we are constantly connected, often simultaneously to multiple communication vehicles – e-mail, the web, mobile phone calls, texts and instant messaging and our face-to-face interactions with people and the old fashioned landline telecommunication.
Because of this connection, as an essential aspect of our lives, multitasking became essential.
But multitasking is not something that we are good at. We can mutitask simple activities that demand only minimal attention, but we find it difficult for those activities that require abstract thought and sustained focus.
The american studies from 2007, show that it takes up to 15 minutes to re-focus on a task after we’ve been interrupted, even by a simple e-mail. And interruptions can result in reduced accuracy of memory too.
But not all the interruptions are technological. Some are social, often by people who are engaged in procrastination over tasks they want to escape.
The main idea is that we cannot get rid entirely of interruptions, but we can do a lot to reduce them, to make those remaining as brief and purposeful as possible.
Working all my life in a busy environment, I learned and discovered several ways to manage interruptions that I’d like to share with you.
1. Be clear about what do you want to achieve at the end of the day. A long “to do list” doesn’t mean that you had a productive day. Ask yourself questions such as:
a)What did I do today to bring myself closer to my long-term goals
b)My activities/daily behaviours reflect my vision and goals?
c)What can I do differently to manifest my values through my actions?
2. Consolidate tasks: emails, messages, phone calls. You will handle them more effectively
3. Give briefings when passing on tasks, to avoid people to come back to you with follow up questions.
4. Check your peak performance times of the day. We all have our best moments of productivity but check again if they are still making sense. If for example you started to believe that you are an evening person, ask yourself “Why did you come up to this idea”? If once you’ve been really busy and postponed all the important tasks for the end of the day, check if now is still relevant and not just an old belief.
5. Assign the most important tasks for the peak performance times of the day.
6. Be assertive! Find a respectful way to tell people that you’re on an important task now and that they can get back to you when you’re having a break.
7. Take breaks at predetermined times. Don’t work long blocks of time. The brain can stay focused on average 40 minutes, try to break your working time into small blocks and take control of the breaks in between.
8. De-connect yourself from internet (if not working with it). Work on one task at a time.
9. Leave a buffer time between tasks. Drink a glass of water, take fresh air, meditate, etc. These breaks will allow yourself to maintain or increase your motivation and to build-up a sens of achievement.
10. Find ways to make your work fun!
Enjoyment should always be the goal. Work can be play.
We get so caught up in busyness that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. Even when we focus on working smarter, we’re still often too focused on getting things done.
This should never be the point. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing?
The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life, even while you’re working.
This may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s more possible than ever in today’s world. Be curious. Be open to opportunity. Know yourself. Embrace your passions.
Wonderful things will happen. Best of luck implementing these tips, and let me know if I can do anything else to help you.
Interested in finding different ways to increase your productivity? We organize an event in July focused on performance and productivity. Buy tickets here!
For a great day at the office!
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