Driving home from the store, my air-conditioned car loaded with groceries that I was able to “hunt” and “gather” in a matter of minutes, unlike the time-intensive real “hunting” and “gathering” our ancestors had to do; I thought about the time-saving luxuries I enjoy, from my car to my washing machine. I wondered why, even with all of the conveniences of today, we can still feel like we don’t have time to get it all done or to pursue our meaningful goals.
What is the biggest culprit? In a word ... DISTRACTION.
We have distractions on all sides; TV, video games, crisis, but the two I get the most complaints about are the Internet and cell phones. They are both tools that can be time saving or distracting. It is great to be able to contact people at our convenience and have a wealth of information at our fingertips. But constant connectivity can be annoying when the interruptions keep us from getting things done.
Did you know that on average we are interrupted about every three minutes, and that it takes up to six minutes to regain focus? You can do the math. If we are not truly focusing on our activities, it’s no wonder we are struggling.
Here are three tips to help you regain control and accomplish more each day.
Plan your day
When you don’t have direction, any action can feel productive.
- Spend some time deciding on your goals for the day, week, month -- which projects you want to tackle, and what tasks need to get done.
- Schedule these activities in your calendar.
Schedule 90-minute blocks of time, free from interruption, to work on important projects/goals. You will be amazed how much you can get done in this short block of time when you give your full attention.
- Take control. Turn off your phone, social media, and email during this time so that nothing is beeping or buzzing to break your focus.
- If you get interrupted, or if you interrupt yourself by sneaking a peak at you email or social media, start the 90 minutes over.
When you choose to spend time on the Internet, consider the following suggestions:
- Determine ahead of time your purpose for being on the Internet, and stick to that purpose.
- Decide how long you want to spend online and set a timer. Otherwise, that one 15-minute informative video you intend to watch can morph into hours of unproductive time.
I, for one, love my time-saving conveniences. I’m glad I can vacuum rather than lug my rugs outside to beat them clean, and I’m not giving up my cell phone or the Internet.
But life today is full of distractions. The key to moving forward on projects and getting more done is to take control rather than be controlled by your tools: Plan your day, block out time for projects and goals, and manage your time on the internet, TV and games. You will love what you can accomplish when you take control of your distractions and pursue your goals.