Have you ever wondered what happened to your productivity when you started the day with good intentions and then only to reach mid-afternoon and lose momentum? Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done reveals helpful insights on how to jump-start our productivity.
A key distraction we face at work is technology. Though we have benefited from the advances of technology, we also have seen how inventions like smartphones, emails and phone calls often disrupt the “flow” we experience at work, thus lowering our productivity.
Bregman says the secret to managing distractions is by creating and sticking to a ritual: “It needs to be an ongoing process we follow — no matter what — that keeps us focused on our priorities throughout the day.”
Step 1: Plan (5 minutes):
“Before you begin your day or check your email, sit down with a blank piece of paper and write down tasks that will make the day successful”, says Bregman. Then take your calendar and schedule those things into open time slots.
“There is tremendous power in deciding when you are going to do something,” he says. Place the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day when distractions are fewer. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list.
Step 2: Refocus (1 minute each hour):
Set an alarm on your watch, phone, or computer to go off every hour during your workday. When it rings, ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Bregman says this ritual will help catch you when you get off track. How you spend your time can be compared to what you eat at a buffet, he says.
“People often eat poorly at a buffet because what they want to eat in the moment is different than what they wished they’d have eaten at the end of the day,” he says. The same thing can be said for time — what you want to do in the moment is often different than what you wished you had accomplished at the end of the day. Checking in every hour will help keep you on track.
Step 3: Review (5 minutes):
At the end of your day, review what worked, where you had the most focus and where you got distracted. “Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish?” says Bregman. “If not, what can you do better tomorrow?”
For example, if you got a lot done during the morning but had a hard time concentrating in the afternoon, consider scheduling work that requires focus, such as writing a proposal or designing a marketing campaign, for early in the day. Save less-taxing tasks, such as reading email or reviewing website statistics, for the afternoon.
Bregman says it’s also a good time to tie up loose ends so they don’t leak into the evening. For example, express gratitude to those who helped you and send quick updates to members of your team.
Paul Sohn is a leadership consultant, blogger, speaker, and author. Formerly, he worked for a Fortune 50 company, and he now works as a leadership transformation consultant at GiANT Worldwide. He has been ranked as the #15 of world’s top 50 leadership bloggers to follow. Christianity Today named him one of 33 Under 33 Christian Millennials making an impact. More at PaulSohn.org