By now, many people know that multi-tasking kills productivity. The problem is most people don’t know how to prevent too much information from coming in, and they end up multi-tasking anyway. Here are a few things that have helped me tremendously.
Batching – This is the absolute best thing I’ve ever found for productivity. Batching is simply grouping similar tasks into one, highly productive session. You can use the following technique for any activity from answering days worth of emails at once, to writing blog articles, to cleaning your house.
- Set a timer between 30-90 minutes. I would suggest starting out on the lower end, as most people don’t have the attention span at first to stay focused for 90 minutes.
- Turn your phone on airplane, unless the batched activity is phone calls.
- Make sure to use the restroom, grab water, and whatever else you might need for the 30-90 minutes.
- Begin working, and don’t stop until your timer goes off.
I will go through periods of time of being very diligent with this, and times when I’m not. I was reminded how powerful it is the other day on a plane ride to Pensacola. I realized I had no service on my phone, which prompted me to batch some work. In 2x 60 minute batching sessions I got done what I thought was going to take two or three days.
Eat that frog is a Bryan Tracy book I read years ago. The book can be summed up by saying that we should do the most “mission critical” item(s) first thing in our workday.
Most people have the most mental energy and focus in the earlier part of the day.
As the day goes on many things may come up, we may get distracted, etc.
To practice the “Eat that Frog” method is anti-procrastination in action. So rather than checking email, then instagram, then facebook, then email again before starting your most important work try it the other way around.
Another huge benefit of doing the important stuff first thing in the morning is that we get this feeling of accomplishment and confidence which influences the rest of our day.
The best way to use this technique is to make a list of your top 3 (or less) most important tasks for the following day. If you wait until the day of, it’s much easier to procrastinate.
Turn Your Cell Phone Notifications Off
Every time we feel that little vibration in our pocket we are distracted from what we were just doing. Studies show that it takes at least 5 minutes to really focus on a task, and some people take up to an hour to focus on “deep work.” So every time we feel that little vibration in our pocket we have lose at least 5 minutes of focus. Turning off your phone notifications can save you a TON of time.
“But Mike, how will I know when @lilfitnessenthusiast801 comments on my picture of my boyfriend and I at the beach? I just can’t.”
Yes you can, and you should. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways of saving your time, attention, and energy for thing that actually matter.
“But Mike I’m an entreprenuer. If I miss a text from an employee, I could miss something important. I just can’t.”
Yes you can, and you should. If your business really does require YOU to handle every single decision, read the E-Myth, and learn to give your employees the power to make decisions for themselves.
We have 18 employees at Brute that are all allowed to think and make decisions for themselves, and I can check my phone a few times a day (rather than 50) without the business failing.
I understand that text and call notifications can be hard to let go of, but I urge you to at least turn off your social media notifications.
Try a 48 hour experiment where you turn them all off. If your life starts to fall apart, you can turn them back on.
I hope these techniques help you as much as they’ve helped me. I used to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do (still do occasionally). I also used to check email and social media like they were hits off a crack pipe (still do occasionally – the email/social media not the crack). By creating rules for myself, creating space for myself to do highly focused work, and removing temptations of constant checking of my phone, I rarely have those feelings anymore.