So you want to have more impact? To do that, you can’t be wasting your valuable time and energy on things that don’t matter, that don’t have impact.
Productivity only matters in the context of what you ultimately want to accomplish. Being productive in the service of your bigger goals and your impact matters.
It’s frighteningly easy to get bogged down in busywork, those items that ‘will just take a minute’, and 2 hours later, sometimes at the end of a whole day, you haven’t done one substantial thing.
Here’s the secret to avoiding unproductive days like that. First, a little context.
Focus is a high level of concentration that is most effective in problem solving, attention to other people in meetings and in conversation, and in the creative process, among other things. When focus is interrupted by a distraction, like an on-screen notification that floats in, a choice to ‘just have a quick look’ at something that has popped into your mind, or an actual person knocking at your door, your ability to focus is compromised.
Research has shown that it actually takes 10 minutes to return to the same level of focus. Some sources say 15 minutes. Meanwhile, your productivity is down and you’re expending energy, and time, to get back on track.
Because of this effect, even if we go with the lower estimate, if you’re interrupted three times an hour, not unusual for most people, you’ve lost 30 minutes of focus. Here’s what that means. Half of your time is lost to whatever distraction you allowed into your world.
That’s a big problem. You can spend hours on a project, and really only have half the effective time available to you than what you have spent. Or even less, if you have more than three distractions.
Your energy and attention are precious, and are won with time and effort.
Would you like to have that time and effort back, essentially double your productivity?
You can. How? Cut out the distractions.
Go into your devices and stop on-screen and audible notifications.
Turn off your phone or put it in another room, out of sight and hearing.
Close your door and let people know not to interrupt.
Use whatever tools you need, including those that prevent you from visiting distracting platforms like Facebook.
Those are helpful tips, but it’s often not as easy as cutting out the distractions. Reducing or eliminating distractions requires you to commit to what’s important to you. To move through your fear that you’ll actually accomplish it – What will that mean for you and your business? Who do you have to be to live the new reality? – you have to commit.
The decision to commit is at the heart of stopping distractions.
Distractions keep you from focusing on what’s most important to you. Even if you feel you can’t stop all distractions, commit to stopping most of them, and you’ll see an increase in what you are able to accomplish. You’ll be happier, less tired, and more fulfilled at the end of a day.
Of course, there are lots of ways you can increase your productivity, but this one jumps out in its, well, impact.
Reduce your distractions, and you’ll have a great deal more energy and time to do those things that will allow your profits and your impact to soar.