Isn’t it ironic that in today’s technologically advanced world that we seem to have less free time than ever? Emails, texts and social media place a huge burden on our daily schedule. Moreover, distractions cause us to lose focus on important tasks. Research indicates that it takes 14 minutes to return to the important task after fielding a distraction. And once returning to that important task after a distraction, it naturally takes some time to regain momentum.
According to software company 80Pct Solutions, “Americans spend 11 hours per day on digital devices, workers are digitally interrupted every 10.5 minutes, with interruptions costing the economy an estimated $650 billion per year.” That’s a lot of distraction.
Distractions Reduce Productivity
They also increase the probability of making mistakes. A statistically significant study conducted by Oregon State University in 2012, found that a group of surgeons “made major surgical mistakes almost half the time during a simulated gall bladder removal when they were distracted by noise, questions, conversation or other commotion in the operating room.” To recap, nearly 50% of highly intelligent, highly trained surgeons made MAJOR mistakes when distracted!
In other words, distractions not only thwart our productivity, but also increase the chance of making mistakes. A mobile DJ faces an array of potentially disastrous mistakes: double-booking a party, missing key songs when preparing for a wedding, overlooking an important email, failing to log an appointment, and many more. At an event, being distracted (on your smartphone for example) can also contribute to performance errors.
The cumulative effect of poor time management is a sense of being overwhelmed. High stress levels can further thwart productivity and lead to mistakes and even poor health. While “multi-tasking” has a glamorous appeal, in fact it typically results in lower productivity and more mistakes.
Consider an Alternate Vision
What if you took back control of your time, efficiently knocked off your “to do” list and concentrated on important tasks while minimizing distractions? Imagine your delight when having newly found free time after work to spend with your family or participate in an activity unrelated to business!
Listed below are 5 tips to take back control of your time:
1. Create a daily to-do list, preferably the night before. Preparing the list in advance puts you at ease the following day. It also allows your task list to enter into your sub-conscious during sleep, allowing for further insights the following day.
2. Check and respond to emails in two or three designated time slots per day. By responding to emails instantaneously as they come in, you may feel productive, but in fact, the opposite holds true. I recommend checking and responding to email three times a day – in the early morning, after lunch, and late afternoon or evening.
3. Similar to email, allocate small portions of each day to Social Media. Social media is a great business tool, but too many of us get sucked in for the wrong reasons. Just this morning during work hours I found myself emotionally involved in a pet rescue video that I stumbled across in my Facebook feed.
4. When working on an important task, turn off or mute your phone and close out all unrelated windows on your computer not related to the task. Remember, all of these potential distractions will reduce your productivity and likely result in a lower quality of work. I find the beeps and chirps on a phone particularly distracting (and tempting!)
5. If you can’t exercise self-control in your computer usage, purchase a software program or “app” that controls your internet behavior. There is no shame in admitting that you are addicted to social media. If so, consider an app like Anti-Social ($15) (http://anti-social.cc) that blocks any site that wastes your time over appointed time blocks.
I will leave you with a quote by the famous sales consultant Harvey MacKay: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”