By Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA
Have you ever been listening in on a conference call, pressed mute on your phone, and checked your e-mail?
Have you ever been watching a Webinar, glanced over at a second screen, and “kind of” paid attention to the recorded presentation?
Have you ever been reading a book, reached the end of the page, and realized you have no idea what you just read?
Because there is so much to think about, you think about SO MUCH! One of the ways to increase your daily productivity by 10 to 20 percent is to slow down. By doing so, you’ll get more done.
Right now, place a blank piece of paper off to the side of your workstation. (Personally, I always have my Moleskine journal opened to the next blank page, with a pen ready.) While you’re working, pause to write down what you think of doing, when you think of something else to do. Don’t interrupt your workflow to DO what you’re thinking; simply write it down.
While I’m coaching an executive or presenting from the stage, I set myself up to have thoughts about what I’m NOT talking about. Make sense? For example, while I’ve been working on this article over the last 30 minutes or so, I’ve already thought of seven things I need to do “later.”
Of course, this may seem counterintuitive (or—gasp! —even counter-productive) to you. “But, Jason, if I think of something small or easy to do, shouldn’t I just do it? That’s what Nike says!” We’re used to moving so fast, employing what I call a “think it, do it” mentality, that we wind up breaking our own concentration, ultimately forcing ourselves to work longer or extra on tasks and projects that don’t really deserve that much of our attention.
Think about it this way: Even if all seven of the things I thought of over the last half-an-hour ONLY took me two minutes to complete, and it ONLY took me one minute to regain my focus on this article, how productive could I be? Really?
Let’s do some quick math:
30 minutes’ total working time
minus 14 minutes = the time necessary to do the 7 tasks
minus 7 minutes = the time necessary to get my focus back after task-switching
That leaves me with just nine minutes of working time.
However—and this is important—it would not have been and could not have been, nine contiguous minutes. Most likely, I would only have gotten three three-minute focus periods, or even worse, four two-minute focus periods.
Could I have written this article by only focusing on it three minutes at a time before losing my focus to some other task? Could you get something done if you were continually interrupted while you were working on it?
Try the following four-step approach to improving your workflow and productivity over your next few work sessions. If this approach helps, continue doing it. If you find new ideas, please share them via Twitter for us all to see.
Over years of practicing this and coaching clients in this “think, bunch, and prioritize” methodology, I have seen productivity increase and people get more of the right things done during a workday. Give it a try and see what you think about when you slow down to notice.
Jason W. Womack, M.A., M. Ed., speaks and consults on the topics of maximizing productivity and achieving a balanced lifestyle. Visit his Website at http://www.womackcompany.com and share your questions and comments via e-mail: mailto:Jason@womackcompany.com or Twitter: www.twitter.com/jasonwomack.