We all know that getting anything done requires focus, meaning a willingness to tune out distractions and simply put one foot in front of another, print one word after another, or do whatever boring thing has to happen for the amount of time it takes to finish it in its entirety. It’s not rocket science and most of us don’t require the impetus of believing are actions are in some way transformational to get going. But, we do get distracted. It starts with a snack, be it literal, or the of the mind variety. We simply must have that cookie, or check out that YouTube video. Before you know it we’ve frittered away precious minutes.
Of course there are focused people who have designed apps that they think will help us. They can track our activity, or block sites. Then what? We can spend time adding up the time we have used inappropriately, or find new ways to sidetrack the blocks that are keeping us from our favorite sites. Technology is not the answer. The impetus to do what needs to happen must be internal. Old School has its place. And nothing is more specifically old school than facing down a task. In the end, there is no tracking device, or clever gizmo that will enable you to say no to stopping for a cookie or a video. You simply have to say later and mean it. Get away from media. Resist the impetus to look at your devices every time they ping. And give yourself small rewards for reaching certain goals. It feels good to be the one in control.
- Productivity depends not on fancy productivity apps but on your ability to control your own mind and attention.
- People whose control is based on what is inside them and not on outside factors tend to be more successful, so not answering that flurry of work email may make you a much better worker.
- Keep more careful track of your time, stay off of social media and turn off notifications to focus better.
“My work doesn’t save lives. My not answering emails for two hours doesn’t mean the project will go down the drain. My attraction to that (1) on my Whatsapp browser tab is me willingly accepting slavery to the idiotic notification culture Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have spawned. By interrupting my work, I am the moth flying into the light and getting zapped.”