The main problem of our time is sparse attention. The flood of information falls on our poor heads and we should have a special skill not to drown in the information flow. A technology designed to make our lives better, gradually acquire full attention and practically established total domination over us.
Imagine a workday of normal office worker. How is this day?
You sit down to write an important report, at this point, “tink!” pops up e-mail reminder. Yeah, it’s a letter with a new task from the boss, which must be done “yesterday”. You are distracted, trying to solve this problem immediately, then a colleague comes to you and asks how you find the yesterday’s premiere. You talk a few minutes, and then you get down to the report and here again “ting!” on the phone – notification that your friend has commented on your post. You open your facebook friends list and hang out for another half an hour, like new photos of friends. Finally you have a lunch with colleagues, after that you get down to work again and, oh, hell, remember that you have not coped yet with the task from the boss’ letter, still have to call your parents and to arrange an appointment with the doctor and so goes the whole day. In the result: nothing has been done.
According to statistics, an average manager gets distracted every 8 minutes. Each distraction in the best case lasts for 3 minutes. And it is full 3hours in the eight-hour workday. And do not forget that we need about 10-20 minutes for coming back to the previous level of productivity that was before we were interrupted. And when do we have to do the work? That’s why we work overtime, get frustrated and stressed.
Our brain is overloaded; we do not have time to process all the information, misunderstanding, frustration and stress increases gradually. We constantly want to click «reset» and to restart our brain.
What can we do? How to manage our work with all distractions, for us not to go crazy?
I ask myself this question 13 years ago, at the time I worked as a manager at a bank. And when the average detainment at my work was more than 4-5 hours a day, and my face got strange greenish tint :), I decided: “It is impossible to live this way anymore.”
Time management was very popular then. After a few training sessions and reading a lot of books, I managed to change my life and I was able to reduce the number of detainments, significantly increased my productivity. Then, gradually, I got more and more interested in productivity, efficiency, energy management. Gradually I developed my own system of work with time wasters, which helped to neutralize them. I am not a robot and I live in a comfortable for me pace. I love new gadgets and I actively use them, but sometimes I do “cleansing” for not to be distracted.
And here I want to share a few basic ways of work with distractions that have been accumulated for the years, and helped me to be more productive. Perhaps, some recommendations may seem hard, but I am convinced that in the 21st century we cannot do it in another way. Either you’re cruel to time wasters, or they are cruel to you 🙂 You’re to decide.
Well, let’s start:
I’ll start with recommendations for infomaniacs like me. Let’s go back to the pile of unread books, purchased CDs with trainings, and online bookmarks for unread articles on which you have no time.
Firstly, all these “unread” things, like all the unfinished business, suck your energy out of you and only contribute to the growth of dissatisfaction, so there is one way out – to take the bull by the horns and to start filtering all incoming information and work with distractions.
Don’t drown in information:
1. Go on low-informative diet. The first time I heard this phrase from Timothy Ferris and it helped me a lot.
2. Install filter. Any information that I want to know goes tested the stop-question “Will this information be useful for me in the nearest future?” And if the answer is “no”, I postpone it.
3. Limit the number of news. You don’t miss anything, I assure you. All the most important things you’ll definitely be told. I read the headlines in the news on the internet and if something is particularly interesting to me, I go and spend on it not more than 2 minutes per day.
4. Abandon the TV or limit your time on it. All the television industry does it’s best to keep you by the TV screens. So, they realize their goals, but you – don’t. You just waste your time. Another question is when the TV helps you to relax, but half an hour per day is enough.
A bit of numbers. According to statistics, an average person spends on TV about 3-6 hours a day that is 45-90 days a year. 3 months of life! Can you imagine how your life would change if you spent the time to improve the quality! Although, I’m sure our readers are little fans of sitting in front of the TV set :).
5. Exactly the same applies to the social networks. Many of my friends and colleagues for many years do not watch TV, but the replace it with social networks and do not notice what a huge amount of time is wasted.
So, limit your time in social networks. Or use them functionally. My news feed set up so that I read only the announcements on interesting to me topics, and news of interesting to me people.
6. Use the rule of “50 to 10”, that is 50 minutes of productive work without distractions and 10 minutes remuneration in social networks.
7. Once a week or once a day abandon completely all gadgets. No phones, ipads, laptops and even books. Have a rest! Concentrate on the world around you, on a green leaf, friends’ voices, music, sensations of the body. Stop living in a virtual world.
It always amazes me when I see the endless posts and photos on Facebook , the chronology of the daily activities of friends and colleagues. A question arises: when do they have time to live when all their life is on instagram and Facebook? How much precious time is spent on taking a picture and posting it, instead of living the life?
I do understand that social networks is a perfect way to find like-minded people, to share important thoughts with the world, to communicate with interesting people, but it is very important to see the difference between the real and virtual life and not to become dependent on external factors such as likes and comments.
8. “Cleanse” your brain. Constantly keep all the information preferably in one place; it can be a list in the diary, on your tablet or computer. And every day look through your list and sort the information.
Meditate, relax, go in freewriting, but do not keep everything in your memory, if you do not want to “freeze”.
This is especially important if you need to make a serious decision or to generate ideas. Here you have to leave all your worries behind and empty your head full of stereotypes for new ideas and new solutions. Just write down all the chaotic thoughts on paper, empty your precious vessel and go forward to new ideas!
9. Do not be afraid of lists. It’s not a trap, as irrational people think – is freedom, freedom of your mind to think about what is really important and not get stuck in a pile of flying ideas and thoughts.
10. Sort the information in your telephone. We didn’t even notice how we have become the slaves of our gadgets. One phone call can destroy our grand plans. But nothing happens if you do not answer immediately, and call back a little bit later. If only you aren’t an emergency worker.
11. Finally, less e-mail checks. As well as telephone, social networks, e-mail has become a real timephage that consumes your time. It’s because we believe that we must respond immediately to every message. Remember, there is nothing extra urgent that you cannot take a timeout.
12. Switch off the push-up notifications of social networks and e-mail notifications and check them only when you really want it, not when they want you to do it.
13. And the most important thing – learn to say “no” politely to unnecessary affairs and people. You probably noticed how much time and energy you spend on idle talks and affairs. And we cannot find the right words to refuse politely a person or to make it clear that we are busy. The good news is that the ability to say “no” is a skill and it can and should be learned.
Be moderately hard, don’t let information flow and distractions consume your time. We live in the age of IT, so it is necessary to use information and technologies for our benefit and not to become their slaves. In the current situation, we clearly see how easy it is to control us through information flows. Do not be slaves, be the bosses of your life. Filter, block and reject. It’s your life, your mood and your territory.
Good luck to you!