Research shows time and time again that true multi-tasking is a myth and, even among those who ‘seem’ able to manage lots of things at once, it is a highly inefficient strategy. Our brains are not designed to focus well on more than one thing at a time. It seems that even when we are multi-tasking, our concentration is actually whizzing between the two, three or umpteen tasks at lightning speed; rather than concentrating on any one of them.
The reality is that you will always do a better job and deliver far greater outcomes in any endeavour when you are one hundred percent focused on doing that one thing. Studies also show that any interruption in concentration, while we are absorbed in a particular task, will result in a considerable amount of time needed to return to the original level of attention. So, it only takes half a dozen unscheduled phone calls in a day to waste several hours of anybody’s time. The problem is that we have all become so used to living with distractions that we no longer know what it means to be able to fully focus and work at our optimum level.
Be the master of your own time…
There are two areas where I believe this knowledge could significantly improve your ability to deliver higher quality and greater quantities of work. And I challenge you to try this today: especially if you are a one-man-band, a contractor or a freelancer. Now this might sound drastic or maybe even draconian in the year 2017, where technology has put communication and information on tap – but please don’t judge my challenge until you have tried it at least once.
The next time you sit down to do some work which doesn’t require you to interact with anyone else, isolate yourself completely! Turn off your smartphone, unplug the desk phone, close down your email, switch off your social media pop-ups, silence any other message notifications, and ignore texts. Make sure that no one (and I mean no one) can disturb you, shut the door (put a sign up if you need to) and simply work. For two or three hours, get out of the world of busy, busy, busy and concentrate on one thing – delivering your expertise.
At first, the temptation to check your email or phone might well be overwhelming, but please just try and resist it until the session is over. If there is an emergency or the building is on fire someone will ignore the sign on the door and let you know – I’m sure. (Obviously, if you are expecting an important message, please feel free to make allowances for that.)
Spend more time doing what you do best!
The example above is good work practice and will, if you follow it, make each day more productive. But I did promise you two areas where distraction management can help you. Here is the second: You can sell your time, as a contractor or freelancer, because you are an expert in what you do – right? Why then would you waste your valuable time, expertise, experience and abilities by doing work that is a distraction to you?
Why not give your administration, bookkeeping, marketing, legal support, and any other hassle to someone else to do? Then you can give your work your full attention, deliver greater results and make more money! Call us today to discuss how we can help.
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