Eliminate These 6 Distractions To Supercharge Productivity
Take your hand off your mouse. Take your fingers off the keyboard. Pause the music in the background. Allow your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them.
We live in a world of options. We have millions of them right before us every day.
Whether it’s the decisions we have to make at the grocery store or the choices we have between recipes for the meals we prepare, it’s clear that we are swimming in possibilities everywhere we turn.
All of these options pose a problem for us though.
When was the last time you sat down to knock off an item on your checklist and found yourself 20 minutes later down the bottom of a rabbit hole of Wikipedia links or FB posts that have zero to do with your task at hand?
Not too long ago, was it?
Not to worry, there is millions of people out there like you. People who feel lucky to go one hour without something knocking them off-task.
There’s a simple word for this type of person: distracted.
There are many one-step solutions available to the Distracted: go on Ritalin, eat more veggies, eat less veggies, take Adderall, sleep only 4 hours at a time, take naps, don’t take naps, and the list goes on.
This 12-step guide won’t be your “easy-button” to increased productivity but it will give you the tools and ideas you need to get your distractions out of the way and live as your most productive self.
This is a 2-part article. In this piece, we’ll discuss the distractions most of us deal with and some methods to rid yourself of them.
Eliminate These 6 Distractions To Supercharge Productivity
The first thing you need to do to get off the ropes in this boxing ring of productivity is identify the things that are keeping you from getting your work done.
There’s a couple things to remember here: be ruthless and have discipline.
If you cannot be ruthless in identifying “time-wasters”, you will not be able to eliminate enough items.
Similarly, if you don’t have discipline after you identify your time wasters, you will allow them back into your life.
#1. Eliminate Unproductive People
We may as well start here. As I said, you have to be ruthless.
If you can identify your most unproductive friends or co-workers and minimize your time spent with them, pretty much everything else on this list will be a breeze.
This is a challenging step for many people because nobody likes to be “cut off”. It is mostly unnecessary and bad for building your reputation.
There are friendly ways to go about it.
Imagine a co-worker that stops by your desk to chat every day at mid-morning and prolongs your work.
You don’t have to tell her to “GO AWAY!” Simply tell her you are working on something now and ask her, “Can we catch up later?” And/or you can ask if she or he would like to get lunch sometime during the week.
Friends outside of work are a bit more challenging. However, you should apply the same type of strategy in this situation.
If a friend likes to call during the day, you can either ignore the call completely or ignore the call and text to let them know you can chat after work or on the weekend.
If these solutions are the type of thing that would make your distracting friend upset with you, it’s time to tell them exactly how you are feeling about your relationship.
If they are not willing to compromise, it’s time to find a new friend!
A good tool for keeping communication with the calls you choose to screen is most likely right on your phone. If you have an iPhone, you can use this guide and if you have an Android phone, check out this App.
#2. Eliminate Unproductive Technology
If you’re like me, you work on your computer – a lot. So the chance for distraction is about 10 million times higher (probably more).
You also may have a tendency to type in “Face” and let Google do the rest for you. You then spend the next 10 minutes looking at nonsense events from friends and family you hardly ever see.
This next step is an obvious one. You need to eliminate the technology that does not have to do with the work you have before you.
Unless Instagram, Twitter, video games and the like are tools you use for work, you should designate a time and a place where you use them.
Not only does this increase productivity, it really does make using these social networks, video games, and the rest of the “fun” technology more satisfying.
If you have a problem with productivity while on your computer, check out these solutions:
StayFocusd – pretty much the opposite of Anti-Social. It allows your browser access to selected sites only a certain amount of time per day.
#3. Eliminate Email Distractions
For those of us who work from a computer for a good part of the day, email is one of the biggest time consumers there are.
The important thing with email is setting boundaries and rules that limit the time you ALLOW yourself to spend on it.
Respond to the most important emails first, and set a time limit for responding to the rest of them.
If you have a lot of email coming your way, you have to be strict about your policy for responding. Kindly ask those who you speak with regularly to include whether or not they require a response.
Many references for great tips for email strategy can be attributed to this post by Leo Babauta.
#4. Eliminate Unproductive Meetings
In the past, I worked at a company that held daily meetings for a specific group of people. I was early out of college and I thought it was important for me to participate in as many parts of the business as possible.
What I gained from these meetings was hardly enough to justify my presence, so I stopped attending them after a while.
If you are a business owner, you should be limiting the amount of meetings you have. Stop talking. Not looking for excuses! Just do it.
If you’re an employee you should ask your manager/supervisor if it’s possible for you to skip out on the meetings you find to be less beneficial.
Here is what to say:
“Mrs. _______, I really think I will get more done ___day if I keep working during the meeting. Are you opposed to me staying at my desk to continue working? I can have ____take notes to keep me informed.”
For more information on the lack of value in meetings, check out Seth Godin’s take on them.
#5. Eliminate Menial Tasks
When you have a lot on your plate, getting things done is hard. If you are by yourself, it drags things out, takes longer, and ultimately makes things less pleasurable.
This is why you should be taking on the tasks only YOU can accomplish.
In other words, you should be reducing the amount of time you spend on things that could easily be accomplished by someone you employ now or a future employee/subordinate who you can afford to hire.
Make a list of all the things that you do in your work. How many of them do you do on a daily basis?
How many of these tasks can you delegate to someone else? How long would it take to train someone to do them? Are you able to hire someone?
Obviously, there are costs to consider but if you are able to pay someone $10 an hour for a task that takes up 5 hours of your week it may be worth it. That all depends how you value your time.
Work on BIG things. Delegate as many “small” things as you possibly can.
Zirtual is a service that offers U.S based VA’s starting at $99/month or you can look at places like Elance or Odesk for an overseas VA for a lower cost.
#6. Eliminate Excess ‘Entertainment’
This is quite similar to the prior mentioned directive for eliminating unproductive technology. However, some entertainment does not fall into the “technology” category so it’s best that I mention it.
We’ll use the Super Bowl as a superb example.
Did you watch the Super Bowl? If so, how long did you spend watching the game? How long did you spend preparing snacks for the game?
If you’re anything like me, you have a great group of friends who all like to get together and watch “big games” like the Super Bowl. Events typically lasting more than 3 hours.
Waste of time, right? I definitely agree.
However, time with friends IS important.
When you know you have events like this coming up, you should budget your time wisely prior to the event and/or after to make sure you get the important items checked off your list.
If you are currently not satisfied with what you are able to accomplish in a day, you must find out what is preventing you from getting the big items completed.
Reducing your distractions is one of the most important steps to becoming more productive.
However, being productive about more than simply getting things done. Rather, it’s about being happy with what goals you’re able to accomplish. If you’re happy and able to be productive as a distracted person, I will be the first to tell you to keep doing what you’re doing.
I also want you to remember that happiness does not come from work and work alone. Actually, it is quite the opposite.
This is the first of a two-piece article. Since we’ve taken the time to eliminate the distractions, we now have to create a more productive you!