Time management is always a hot topic as we seem to think we have so little time to effectively manage our days and have some semblance of work life balance. You too want to get more things accomplished while the clock keeps ticking and more tasks seem to pile up.
What can you do? Get a handle on your time, your interruptions and your distractions. Thanks to technology and the digital world, we are always connected and being bombarded with data overload. Crush the chaos. It can take all of the discipline you can muster to tune out the influx of information coming at you. Time can be an elusive mystery when you are in a constant struggle to find more of it, so it is up to you to invest in your time, in your life, in your business. The best thing you can do is learn to manage yourself to better manage your time. “Choice management.”
We are repeatedly bombarded by data overload via our push notifications, social media notices, text messages, phone calls, e-mails, Skype chats and news alerts on a daily basis. It is marvelous to always be connected, in touch and just a mere keystroke away. You are never alone and continuously up to date in both your personal and professional life. But there is a hitch and that is the negative impact it has on our concentration and stress levels. It hurts our brains!!
As a technologically in-tune society, we must learn to filter the urgency of our incoming communications in order to remain devoted to the tasks at hand. The constant interruptions have a pronounced impact on our productivity and efficiency level, never mind time management. If we continue to allow outside distractions to compete for our time and focus, we are unable to give our absolute attention to our present moment and activities. Interruptions because of too much data in the workplace costs US businesses $650 billion a year!
Computerworld reports that we are now living in a world of “interruption technology.”
Learning to unplug and tune out can present a challenge for many, but as an entrepreneur, it is paramount to your success, effectiveness and time management. Researchers at the University of Kent in Australia monitored the eye movements of 100 people using an eyeball-tracking camera. They asked the participants to read a section of text on a computer screen, before disturbing them with one-minute messages – like phone calls. The research subjects were then told to resume the original reading, while the eye-tracking camera analyzed how they did so. The investigators discovered that there was an average 17% increase in the total time it took to read the whole passage on the screen.
Now just imagine all of the alerts and communications you receive during the day; probably much more than what was instituted in the above research. If there was a 17% increase in the length of time it took to read the passage, can you imagine how your output is affected with a continual barrage of steady interruptions?
In a 2012 study by The University of California, Irvine and the US Army, it was found that frequent email checkers were less productive, less focused and more stressed. On average, these types of email users averaged 37 switched windows per hour compared to a non-email checkers who only switched 18 times per hour. The second group of workers engaged more deeply with teammates, were focused on their tasks, increased their productivity and were less stressed.
Here are a few tips to assist you in halting unnecessary diversions:
- Schedule time on your calendar to tune out and turn off
- Let others know you are “off limits” during certain working hours
- Close the door or put on ear buds
- Silence your Smartphone
- Just say NO to social media! (Facebook and Twitter updates are always accessible).
- Shutdown everything that notifies you of an alert, sound, or other announcement (your e-mail will still be waiting for you).
- COMMIT to your decision to focus and jump in with gusto
- Once your project is completed, come up for air, stretch, respond to voicemails, text messages and other communications.
- Grab an energy snack to refuel for your next session
Remember, being offline is an industrious act toward completing your projects, achieving your goals and remaining on task. You will see a considerable increase in your productivity as you continue to shield yourself from outside disruptions and digital noise or as Stewart Baines says: “infobesity.”
Turning off isn’t just for the business world. We are electronically tethered 24/7 and this crosses into our personal boundaries. It becomes too much when we allow technology to consume our time and energy away from the present moment, sacrificing the things that truly matter. In a consumer survey last year, Qualcomm found that 37% of people use their phones while attending a party, 36% do so while eating at a restaurant and 35% use their phones while playing with their children.
Suzie Kummins-Poirier, a.k.a Ace Concierge, is an executive virtual assistant/online business manager working with entrepreneurs and business owners who need to focus on their core genius by delegating the much-needed but time-consuming everyday tasks, projects and daily business operations. With 30 years of experience both within corporate and working remotely with clients, she has built a career in supporting hundreds of business professionals in propelling their businesses to increased income and laser-sharp focus. Growing a business encompasses exceptional time-management, content marketing, data management and effective tools for increased productivity. You can learn more about Suzie by following her on Twitter, reading her blog full of productivity tips at www.AceConcierge.net and connecting with her on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/aceconcierge.