We’d all like to spend less time working, and more time enjoying life. So why do we let so much of our time at work get wasted by irrelevancies and distractions? Staying focused is important. If you could work for four hours a day, and get the same amount done as you do in ten hours, wouldn’t you choose that?
Research has shown that it takes on average 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted from your work. Now that we’re living in a society where distractions are almost constant, it makes sense that many people are constantly feeling like they “can’t get anything done”. We have all the time in the world, but we’re always spinning our wheels, never getting off the mark.
Here are some tips for those of us working in a modern workplace, looking to regain our productivity and stay focused.
Notifications have become a constant part of our daily lives now. It’s hard to go for five minutes without something flashing in front of our eyes to distract us. You’re typing an email, and at the same time, you’re getting a Slack notification or a text pop up in front of you. Or your phone is dinging away on your desk. Now you have to think about that instead of what you were doing. Even if all you think is, “I’ll respond to that later”, you’re still distracted, and you’ve lost your focus. Turn it all off. How many times do you need to respond to a message instantly?
We’re living in a digital world, where most of our communication is by text. Email, Slack messages, texts. It’s a constant stream of things we need to read, think about, and then respond to. But for many things, a quick phone call or Skype call could save you a 30-minute messaging exchange. If a conversation goes past a few messages, considering picking up the phone and trying to resolve the issue quickly.
Many people feel like they need to respond instantly as soon as they receive a message or email. While this is fine if you’re dealing with one client or colleague, if you have dozens of people to communicate with, you might find yourself spread thin. Instead, set aside specific times for responding to messages, and do them in batches. Check your email at the top of every hour for example, and deal with anything you need to then, and you’ll remain more focused.
Justin Cobb is an international entrepreneur, based in the US, with a network of companies spanning the globe.