Brain Change

Focus on life through a simplified mind

Where did my day go?

The world today is challenging.  It is a world of instant communication, instant news, instant consequences, and instant gratification.  With all the avenues of information we have we should be super productive.  So why then at the end of the day do we wonder what happened to all of our time?  Why did we not get the tasks done that we were supposed to do?

One possible answer

Attention interupts

These attention interupts may be,  friends, co-workers, phone calls, web surfing, facebooking, twitter, e-mail.  With all these avenues of information we should be super productive, right?

Wrong

There is a mental state of mind that you create when you are deeply involved with an important task.  You may call this being “in the zone”.  Being “in the zone” means you are super focused at the task at hand.  You have all been here, the rush of doing important work and knowing you accomplishing something great can be so rewarding.

The problem comes when the phone rings, or the E-mail alert in your inbox goes off, or a coworker stops by to chit-chat.  All of a sudden you experience an attention interupt.  It takes you out of your state of mind and unleashes a burden to your attention.  These type of interupts are disastrous to your productivity.  Author Timothy Ferris tells us that for a major task it can take up to 45 minutes to reset physcologically after an interuption.

As I drive deeper into the core of minimalism I am becoming aware that one of our most precious possessions is not our, money, possessions, or jobs.  It is in fact our time.  it is one of the few things in life you can never get back.  Money can be made again, possesions can be bought again, jobs can be found.  Time you can never get back.  So how do we create more time to do the things that truly matter?

1)  First thing in the morning list all the tasks and obligations that you have to complete to get a complete picture of what your day may look like. Realize that you may not be able to get through all your daily tasks and pick 2-4 of the most important items you want to get done and for the time being, forget everything else.  Focus only on these tasks and work through them completely until they are done.  Do not be tempted to add a task to your small list until all of them are completed.  Remember these should be the most important things in your life to get done.  They can be work obligations, family obligations, or other interests that you may have.  The important thing is to “focus” and complete.  When you are completely done you can add another set of 2-4 tasks or set your schedule upon completion to be able to check your e-mail, voicemail, have a meeting, or visit with co-workers.  But not before your done.  Which brings me to my next point.

2)  Quarantine E-mail to specific times of the day.  Do not check E-mail first thing in the morning to see whats happening.  It will steal your mental energy for any simple task, request, or brainfart that someone just happened to send your way.  E-mail creates a false sense of urgency in your mind that even if you just check to see whats in the inbox it will burden your mind until it is resolved.  Voicemail and Phone calls do much the same thing.   In order to focus on your most important tasks set yourself up to check E-mail, and Voicemail, at predetermined times in the day.  Turn off you E-mail alert sounder to avoid cheating when something pops into the inbox.  I would recommend starting with limiting your checking of email and voicemail no more than 3-5 times per day.  I would also advise working your inbox to empty.  While you are on the task of clearing your inbox’s be sure you are taking care of every issue.  I use the three D’s to help me through the jumble.  Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it, pretty self explanatory.   If you leave an unaswered E-mail or voicemail sitting in your inbox it may cause frustration in your mind of an unresolved issue.

3) Your phone should be shut off while you are doing your most important tasks so you do not suffer an attention interupt while you are doing your most important work.  If your job requires you to be available to answer your phone at the drop of a hat.  Remember missed calls are what voicemail is for.  Be sure to have a voicemail message that reflects the importance of the call and the importance of your work you are doing.  “Hi you have reached the cell phone of Justin Guzman I may either be driving or working on an important project, please leave a message as your call is important and I will follow up with you as soon as I can”.  See it’s not that hard, and if it truly is an important call the caller will leave a message.  If it is not that important they will most likely call the next person on their list to help them out of their “emergency”.

Limit your attention interupts by implementing  these three items to your daily lives and I promise you will be rewarded with the gift of time.  Your most important work, family, life tasks will be completed and you will be more fullfilled at the end of the day.  Please do not use your newfound free time to spend it in front of the T.V. or at the watercooler bsing with the buddies.  The point of this exercise is to create the time you need in your life to do something that matters.  Spend more time with your family, read a good book, exercise, learn a new language, there are so many productive things you can now be taking part of.

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September 24, 2010 - Posted by | minimalism, productivity | , , , ,

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