Today, I’d like to talk to you about distractions and how they can derail your productivity and success.
Many years ago, when I was still just a budding entrepreneur, I found that the harder I tried to work - the more distractions I found to stop me!
To help counter this trend, I remember trying to prevent the usual internet-related distractions by switching off Wi-Fi from all of my devices when writing project documents, etc.
This initially worked well for me. However, it wasn’t long before I needed resources from the internet. So, guess what?
I switched Wi-Fi back on. And after finding the information I needed, instead of switching Wi-Fi off again - I was irresistibly drawn to checking my emails and social media feeds. In other words, I allowed distractions to once again disrupt my focus and work output!
Let’s be honest, distractions are everywhere. And unless you take action to stop them, your productivity levels will never match those of high-achievers.
Fortunately, there is a simple technique that can help you remain ‘distraction-free’.
It’s called the 20-second rule, and was developed by positive psychologist Shawn Achor. In his research, Achor found that a person could be encouraged to shun or complete a task based on whether 20 seconds was either added or removed from the time expected to be taken to complete it.
For example, if it took you 3 minutes to make a fruit smoothie in a morning before going to work, you’d be more inclined to adopt this positive action if you found a way to do it in 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
Twenty seconds may not sound like much, but according to Achor, it can make a world of difference when it comes to motivating yourself.
I personally find that the 20-second rule is at its most useful when it comes to distractions.
For instance, if you normally (like most people) interrupt your work dozens of times a day to check your emails, try introducing a 20-second buffer. You can achieve this by configuring your device or simply introducing a mental note to wait 20 seconds before checking your emails.
Try this, and you’ll be amazed at what you find...
- You’ll check your emails much less than before.
- You’ll increase your focus on the essential work at hand.
- You’ll have found a way to break free from all types of distractions!
By adding 20 seconds to a task that you’d like to do - but will distract you from your real work - you’ll be far less likely to do it.
Now, think about the productivity gains you could make by adopting the 20-second rule.
Using the email example above, you could easily reduce the amount of times you check your emails by half. If you’re like most office workers, you currently check your emails about 20 times a day. Cut that number in half and you’ll make some decent time savings.
However, the benefits go way beyond this.
Research carried out at Carnegie Mellon University showed that we’re not equipped to deal with frequently switching tasks (such as moving from creating a PowerPoint to scanning through your Facebook feed). Interestingly, it appears that for every distraction, it can take us up to 25 minutes to settle back into our original task.
Hopefully, now you can see why reducing the amount of distractions in your working day is of vital importance.
Do this - and your productivity will soar to new heights!
If you’d like to read more on the subject of distractions and how to counter them, I recommend you take a look at my recent article:
If distractions are a problem in your life, then I sincerely hope my email and article will be of help. And if they are, please share your feedback with me. I’d love to hear from you.