Okay, in my last blog post I asked the following two questions:
- How many minutes do employees devote to a project before getting distracted?
- It takes workers how many minutes to get back to the original task after a distraction?
The answers are:
- 11 minutes
- 25 minutes
2004 study conducted by Gloria Mark and Victor Gonzalez from the
Wow, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Was I really that bad? The answer, a lot of times I am! So what could I do about it?
Recently I read the book “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich" by Timothy Ferriss. I was able to apply a couple of things from this book that have helped me tremendously.
I started asking myself one question at the end of each day. If I had a heart attack and could only work two hours a day due to doctor’s orders, what would I focus those two hours on? This is an amazing question to ask. Many times we don’t focus on the most important things because they are some times the most difficult things, or the things we want to do the least. I also set calendar reminders in Outlook that would pop up ever few hours and ask the question “Are you working on the most important thing right now?”
Okay, I know it’s simple, but it really worked for me. We think we are busy, but the reality is we spend a lot of time trying to convince others that we are busy by doing things that yield very little fruit, or yield fruit that nobody really cares for. And usually people who always tell other people they are busy are the biggest violators of spending a lot of fruitless time! Think about it.
The second thing I decided to do was to only check my e-mail twice a day in the spirit of staying on task. Once at 11:00 AM and then at 4:00 PM. Believe me, this was harder then focusing on what was most important. It felt well… almost impossible. I had to keep my BlackBerry in the other room and then completely shut down the e-mail on my computer. I found myself having hand to mouse spasms every few minutes as my brain said to the hand, “check your e-mail there might be something important in there.” But I got through the day and an amazing thing happened, I got the most important things done with time to spare. And I felt really good about it. Try it, it really works.
Now, these were just two things I did. The problem with time management books is they require you to do hundreds of them all at once. But, if everything is important, then nothing will be. However, there is no time management book that would ever say that because then they couldn’t write a book, right? In this case, two simple things really changed the way I approach my work because they were simple and applicable.
What two or three things have you learned that changed the way you do work?
FYI, I just read a great article that compliments what I have written above on the Harvard Business Publishing Blog at http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/09/to_multitask_effectively_focus.html
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