Monday, April 8, 2013

Minimize the Number of Times You Get Knocked Out of "The Zone" Daily

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left, without a dope blog to…

I digress.

This latest blog post is about eliminating unnecessary dings, buzzes and vibrations that affect your productivity throughout your work day.

For those of you who are old enough to, think back to a time before you received email on your smartphone.

My guess is that you were more productive and more efficient in those days.

For too many of us, our workflow is interrupted dozens of times daily – perhaps even more than a hundred times, depending on your profession –by our intrusive smartphone alerts.

Some of those among us have the willpower to push through the ding, ignore that feeling of curiosity, deny the urge to stop what we’re doing, grab our smartphone, and look at what is “now.”

I’ll use myself as an example. My job requires that I write press releases often. I could be in “the zone,” fervently typing away, my mind clearly focused on the topic and task at hand.

Then, I hear the ding (a new email has arrived on the email client on my second computer monitor).

Or I hear the vibration (has someone @ mentioned me on Twitter?).

For many people I know, maybe the ding meant they received a Facebook notification. Some folks allow far too many smartphone apps to allow “push notifications,” meaning that they hear/feel that distracting ding/buzz every time their favorite baseball team scores a run, or every time their favorite cosmetic company puts a new nail polish on sale.

So many of us can’t resist that urge to see what caused the ding/buzz. We get knocked out of “the zone.” We screech to a halt. Productivity dies a swift, clean death.

Now, the press release that should have taken me 15 minutes to write is still a work in progress at 30 minutes.

After your curiosity is satisfied, can you go from zero to 60 and restore your productivity quickly? Or do you now decide to check on other things? What’s new on Twitter? Anything interesting on my Instagram feed? Let me check my favorite blog/message board before I return to this project…

Imagine how many more tasks each day you could accomplish if you did some much-needed “distraction maintenance?”

Giving yourself the ability to finish one more project/task each day soon means that you can finish five more things each week. The to-do list on your desk is suddenly shortening. Doesn’t it feel good to cross things off?

Using myself as an example once again: I love my subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine. But I could certainly do without the daily emails from Rolling Stone featuring online content (most of which I’ve already had the chance to read in the magazine itself).

So if I take a few minutes today to log into my Rolling Stone account and change my email settings (ex: Don’t send me daily/weekly news updates), then that’s one less distracting ding each day. That’s one less time I’m getting knocked out of “the zone.”

It means the press release I wrote today is little bit better – clearer, more concise, streamlined – than the one I wrote a week ago today.

Wow… imagine if I turned off a couple of these app notifications, reduced the frequency of LinkedIn emails I receive, unsubscribed from the Living Social emails that, without fail, NEVER seem to interest me even the least bit.

Now I’m really cruising. I’m not grabbing for my phone every three minutes. I’m staying focused on projects that matter. I’m a better employee. I sleep more soundly because that formerly overwhelming to-do list is no longer running through my mind while I lay in bed each night.

Before you leave work today, take 30 minutes to do some “distraction maintenance.” Or dedicate the first 30 minutes of your workday tomorrow.

Yes, you’ll surrender those 30 minutes.

 But you’ll be amazed at how quickly you earn those minutes back.

 PS: Just as soon as I finished writing this, but before I could post it, I got a Living Social email. It was for laser hair removal.