We live in a busy and connected society. By busy, I mean that our schedules are filled with activities from the moment we get out of bed to the moment we lay our heads down to sleep. The busyness we experience is further exacerbated by our connectedness. The daily number of emails, text messages, phone calls, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram reals, and all the other ways technology keeps us “plugged into” each other’s lives mean we are accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Many of you may wonder how anyone can get anything done in this type of environment.
From the outset, I understand what many of you are dealing with on a daily basis. I currently manage five children, four email accounts, three disciples, two jobs, and–a partridge in a pear tree–I mean, one iPhone. Sorry, my Christmas spirit just came to life. Sometimes I am asked where I find time to read, write, and create content for my podcast. While I go 100 miles per hour every day, I have also developed some habits that allow me to maximize my time.
Focus Is Key
One of the keys to efficiency is focus. Focus requires the removal of distractions. If you have too many interruptions, a task that could take you 15 minutes might take 1 hour because you lose focus when disruptions infiltrate your environment at inconvenient and unpredictable times.
4 Ways to Remove Distractions
Here are 4 ways I have removed distractions and become more task oriented, which has made me more productive and efficient:
1. Check Email Twice a Day. Typically, I check and respond to emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I used to work on emails like a grazing cow. By keeping those email tabs open all day, the moment an email hit my inbox I would stop everything I was doing and respond. It was a continuous and vicious cycle that destroyed efficiency. Now, instead of grazing on my inboxes all day, I can get all the emails completed in about 30 to 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon. This small adjustment allows me to focus on my other tasks without interruption and relieves me of the pressure to respond instantly to an email that hits my inboxes.
2. Turn OFF Notifications Forever. For me, notifications are like check engine lights on a car. When they pop up, they let you know something is wrong with your vehicle. The problem is that you can’t stop thinking about it until you correct the problem because that light is just glaring at you on your dashboard. Notifications prevent you from being focused on the task you are currently working on in that moment. Notifications cause you to fear that you are missing something. These notifications will pull your attention away from your tasks. Don’t let them. Turn your notifications off to prevent disruptions and focus on your task at hand. You take ownership of when you want to check your social media or emails on your phone and in your timeframe.
3. Turn ON Do Not Disturb. One of my favorite features on my iPhone is “Do Not Disturb.” I use the generic one when I’m working at the office, but I have one specifically for my reading and writing times, which is labeled “Work.” This feature silences everything on my phone. However, it still provides me with just enough connectivity in case of emergencies. For example, my wife can connect with me in “work” mode if she needs me immediately, but I call her prior to turning this feature on to let her know that I have set aside a certain amount of time for reading and writing.
4. Quiet and Uninterruptable Location. Location makes a difference when you are trying to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. I don’t work well at my house because that is a place that I have reserved for rest, family, and comfort. I don’t like coffee shops because they are too noisy and there are too many people disruptions when I’m trying to work. My office is my primary location for completing tasks. I close my doors, remove all the obstacles to efficiency (see above), and focus completely on a task. By doing this, I get things done faster and more efficiently, which means I am able to complete many assignments in a day.
You May Be Surprised
I know we are all busy and connected. I know all of us have a lot to accomplish in a given day. The biggest takeaway is that you can actually complete your daily tasks better when you sit down and work on them with little to no interruptions. Sometimes interruptions are unavoidable, but by attempting to mitigate them to the best of your ability through these 4 ways, might allow you to increase your productivity. Who knows? You may be surprised by how much you can get done with some simple adjustments to remove distractions.
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