Tell me if this sounds familiar: You sit down at your desk to work. You have five hours’ worth of projects and about eight or so hours to get them done. And you smile to yourself, thinking how nice it will be to leave work early today. Nice to have some time to relax with family and friends.
But then, upon opening your inbox, you spot a Facebook notification and think to yourself, There’s no harm in a quick Facebook check. Uh-oh. Next thing you know, you look up at the clock and realise you have spent the last three hours perusing friends’ Facebook feeds, watching funny YouTube videos and retweeting your favourite celebrities.
Suddenly, your “free time” is gone. Now you’ll have to stay late at the office to finish projects you should have already completed.
If you have ever experienced this, you’re not alone. While it is not easy to do, learning to identify and eliminate the biggest distractions in your work life can lead to more productivity, free time and, ultimately, happiness.
If that sounds like something you are interested in, then read on.
1. Social Media
While this point may almost be too obvious, social media is still one of the biggest time sinks in most Americans’ lives and therefore worth discussing. The average person wastes 3.2 hours on social media each day. That’s over 21 hours a week — more than half of the ordinary work week! Imagine what you could do with over 21 extra hours each week!
How to avoid this: First, delete all social media applications from your phone. If you are not willing or able to do this (for example, you use social media for business), then at the very least dis-able all notifications so that you are not constantly harassed by friends updating their status.
The next step is to download News Feed Eradicator for your computer so that even if you are tempted to check Facebook, you will be blocked and reminded to get back to work.
I also recommend downloading Rescue Time so that you can see exactly where your time is spent each week and make adjustments to be more productive.
2. Texting, messaging and Snap-chatting
I know that it seems that responding to that one text or sending your significant other a quick Snapchat is merely harmless socialising. However, things almost never end with just one message.
If you respond to one message, you have likely roped yourself into an unproductive 30-minute conversation that you could have had over a three-minute phone call during one of your breaks.
How to avoid this: Employ an Airplane mode. Plain and simple. When you are working, keep your phone turned off or on airplane mode to eliminate all distractions. Use your breaks to respond to texts and other messages as they arrive throughout the day.
3. “Urgent” emails
How many times have you been working productively when all of the sudden a co-worker or business associate interrupts you with a seemingly urgent email? If you are anything like me, the answer is a lot.
Nine times out of ten, these emails are not really urgent and are probably unimportant to you and your goals. However, you respond anyway and spend an hour of your day thinking about someone else’s agenda.
How to avoid this: 80/20 your inbox. Check email twice a day, first thing in the morning and then a couple of hours before you leave work. Respond only to emails that are urgent to your goals and agenda for the day and don’t get sucked into the laundry list of tasks everyone else needs you to do.
Use a free or cheaply available email marketing service to automate your responses. I’ve had great success with Aweber and Active Campaign, but any of them will do the job. One simple autoresponder could save you weeks of productivity over the course of a year.
4. Talking with co-workers
You might love your co-workers. But when you need to be productive, they can often do more harm than good. How many times each day are you interrupted by a co-worker who comes over to your desk for a friendly chat, without realising that he or she is distracting you from accomplishing your goals?
Workplace conversations can quickly turn into one of the biggest time sinks and productivity killers if you do not learn how to effectively handle them.
How to avoid this: When you are working, put on some classical music(no lyrics) and wear earbuds so that anyone tempted to talk to you will think twice before interrupting you. If the music is not a big enough deterrent, politely state:
I am working on a big project right now and need to focus; can you wait and tell me what’s going on, at lunchtime/after work?
Don’t be a jerk about it, but don’t be a pushover, either. If you don’t value your time, no one else will.
The human brain is not wired to multitask, period. And, no, you are not the exception. No, your brain is not uniquely wired so that it can multitask more efficiently. If you want to reclaim hours of lost productivity, get more done in less time and have a happier more balanced work life, then quit multitasking. End of story.
How to avoid this: Set a timer for each task that you do and aim to finish the entire task within the time constraints. This will prevent you from getting sidetracked and working on other projects because you know that you are going to complete your other tasks later in the day.
6. Junk food
One of the most under rated factors that affects your productivity is junk food. When I say junk food, I am talking about food that’s processed and contains artificial sugars. Why does this affect your productivity?
Artificial sugar spikes your energy, which will put you in a jittery and hyper mode with the surge of energy. Once that passes, you run out of energy and experience a crash. You won’t be able to focus in either mode; therefore you also won’t be productive.
How to Avoid This: Eliminate as many processed foods and added sugars as you can (eliminate them completely if possible). At the same time, start to eat more whole foods, vegetables and lean meats.
Keep in mind that the hardest part is creating the new habit. When you first stop eating sugary foods, you will crave them since sugar is an addictive. When I stopped eating food with simple sugars, it took me about four weeks before I stopped craving them. As a result, I stopped crashing in the afternoons and I felt much better.
It seems like we live in a generation of distraction. Productivity is something that few people ever take the time to improve and that fewer still ever master. However, if you are willing to put in the work and eliminate the distractions ruling your time, you will have less stress, more success and an overall better quality of life.
So start with these five distractions. Ruthlessly eliminate them from your life, and see how things improve.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV
The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.
The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.
What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success
The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.
You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system: Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.
A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.
The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.
A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.
I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.
Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.
The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Create your own success
In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.
If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.
If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.
And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.
Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals
Decrease the amount of noise in your head.
Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.
Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.
1. Stop multitasking
Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.
Related: Goal Setting Guide
2. Block out your days
A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.
Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.
3. Get your blood pumping
You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.
4. Help your technology help you
A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold Turkey, Freedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.
Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made Simple, Calm and Headspace.
For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.
6. Change up what’s in your headphones
While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.
Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.
7. Streamline your communication
If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.
Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.
8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise
To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.
“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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