Whether you’re against a hard deadline or just really need to focus on a project that means a lot, distractions can be derailing. Here is my #1 productivity tip when something NEEDS to get done, no excuses:
1. Shut down your email and silence your phone.
In my opinion, email is the biggest distraction in a modern office. If something is a real emergency, most people won’t reach out via email. And voicemails can often wait, too.
There’s a big difference between urgent and important, and if you continually find yourself letting “urgent” requests take precedent over important, revenue-generating activity, it’s time to re-evaluate. Talk with a supervisor if you need to go offline for a while but it’s against company policy. Or block out a couple hours each day to put on your “Out of Office” greetings, so you can give undivided attention to the most important projects at hand.
In addition to taking focus away from the work that counts, email might be decimating peace of mind in other areas of our lives. In this 2013 article, Forbes explores the information overload email brings, as well as the unfair expectations it causes customers and organizations to place on employees. Some highlights:
• “On average employees check their email 36 times an hour which amounts to 288 times a day for an eight hour work day.”
• “To make matters worse it takes employees around 16 minutes to refocus on their tasks after handling email.”
• “Not only have companies created a work culture where employees are expected to respond to emails right away, but many of them are expected to do so on the weekends too. In a study by Good Technology they found that 38% of employees routinely check work email at the dinner table, 50% do so while still in bed, and 69% won’t even go to bed without first checking their email.”
So the next time you hear that all-too-familiar ping or feel your pocket buzz, ask yourself: “Could whatever is in that message be more important than what I’m focused on right now?”
The answer is probably no. If more people in corporate America realized that, I think we’d all be a little less stressed and a lot more productive!