Since publishing my super-popular post “Are you a Zen Coder or a Distraction Junkie“, I’ve been doing some more research.
So… do you ever wonder why you can’t get anything done?
Well, Julie Morgenstern, the #1 USA professional organizer, explains what new research revealed:
According to a study published by Cubesmart Inc., we experience on average, one interruption every 8 minutes or approximately 6-7 per hour.
That equals about 50-60 interruptions in an 8 hour day.
Most interruptions take approximately 5-15 minutes. If you receive 50 interruptions daily and each takes 10 minutes, that totals 500 minutes, which is 8 hours per day.
Ouch! No wonder you feel the need to work 12 hours per day… 8 handling interruptions, and 4 getting your work done after hours.
Sobering, isn’t it? Or, consider this study:
“In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites.”
The bottom line is this -
DISTRACTION equals DESTRUCTION …of productivity and your future career and success in life.
Interruptions and distractions are the #1 reason why we can’t get anything done in the office.
Yes, you can use all sorts of fancy productivity techniques, but as long as people and things keep distracting and interrupting you, you won’t accomplish anything. It will be impossible.
You are either distraction-driven, or productive. Your mind is either scattered all over the place, or focused.
It’s your career and future at stake here. It’s a very serious problem – and most people don’t have a clue about it.
Fortunately, here are 5 action steps you can do right now to turn things around -
You absolutely need to get rid of as many interruptions and distractions as possible, immediately. And this is what you need to do -
- Disable all popups and notifications – on your computer, phone, tablet. Everywhere. Be brutal.
- Start explaining to your co-workers that when they need something, they should email you. Be polite but firm and persistent. Also tell them that calling you or walking to your desk should be used only in important urgent matters.
- Check your email only twice a day. Keep your email closed the rest of the day. This is key.
- Keep your phone on vibrate if possible. And remember: You don’t have to pick up the phone just because it rings.
- Don’t “train” others to expect your response immediately in trivial matters. If it takes you 24+ hours to reply to an email, they will learn to obtain the information themselves instead of contacting you all the time, sometimes unnecessarily.
Once you do these 5 things, you will make it possible for yourself to actually get something done!
Then, the next step is to schedule some un-interrupted blocks of time without distractions. Once you do that, you will be more productive than ever – and start going home sooner.
The perfect workflow
Your workday can look like this:
- Look at your to-do list to see what’s next
- Do it
- Mark it as complete in your to-do list
- Go to 1 and repeat
If your current workflow doesn’t look anything like that, well, blame the distractions and interruptions.
PS: Psssst. Let me tell you a secret — ready? — YOU are the one who is allowing the distractions and interruptions into your life. You are responsible. I suggest you take control of your work environment and life back into your hands – today.
You can start by removing the “email drug” needle from your arm, disabling all notifications, and training your co-workers to stop interrupting you all the time.