Advertising

The Price of Distraction Is Far Beyond Your Imagination

Advertising
The Price of Distraction Is Far Beyond Your Imagination

People get sidetracked by irrelevant websites and unproductive tasks occasionally. Have you ever stopped to wonder exactly how much these distractions cost us? The amount of time and money we fritter away will blow your mind.

According to McKinsey, high-skilled workers spend a staggering 28% of their working hours reading and replying to e-mail messages.[1] If we learned to manage our communication technology in a more efficient manner, we could give the economy a $900 million to $1.3 trillion boost per year.

When you find yourself sitting in the office feeling bored or overwhelmed, it’s easy to automatically check your social media. But it comes at a high price. Social media costs the U.S. economy $650 billion every year.[2]

Take a moment and let those figures sink in. We are a distracted nation, and we’re paying for it – big time.

Advertising

The rise of connectivity

    How did we end up in this situation? The 21st century is characterised by connectivity. Over the past couple of decades, it’s become increasingly difficult to disconnect from sources of information. We can access the internet almost anywhere, we can make cheap phone calls to friends around the globe, and our Facebook feeds are constantly refreshing themselves.

    Our addiction becomes especially apparent when we lose our phones or our internet connection drops out. For example, have you ever mislaid your phone for a few hours and become frantic at the thought of missing out on social media notifications and updates? Or perhaps you’ve caught yourself longing for the days where your boss couldn’t just send you a WhatsApp message in the evenings to ask you to do overtime or work faster on a project?

    What’s beyond the time loss

    Advertising

      Originally, smartphones and other portable devices were designed to maximize convenience, allow us to work on the move, and enhance our productivity. Unfortunately, they have turned into a distraction that often interrupts our daily lives.

      For example, you might be working on an important presentation, only to be distracted by several e-mail notifications. You then have a choice – do you stop and answer these messages, or do you carry on with your presentation and hope that the sender doesn’t expect an immediate response? Either way, the notification has interrupted your flow and thrown you off course.

      Every time your attention is diverted from your task, you lose time. It takes effort to get back on track, and repeated interruptions can demotivate you. It can feel as though everyone wants a piece of your time, and that you will never get around to finishing anything. If you are a typical American worker, you’ll be distracted every 11 minutes, and it will take you 25 minutes to actually settle down again to your task. The more complicated your project, the longer it takes to regain your focus, because your brain has to put in considerable effort when switching between complex objectives.[3]

      Research carried out at Carnegie Mellon University shows that human beings simply aren’t equipped to “toggle” between work tasks and frivolous distractions such as Facebook. If you try to do two tasks at the same time, your performance on each will suffer.

      Advertising

      The researchers carried out a study in which people were asked to read a short passage, and then answer questions that tested their understanding of what they had read. Those who were interrupted during the task performed just 80% as well as the participants who were allowed to do the test in peace.[4] In short, you shouldn’t be surprised if social media kills your productivity.

      Keep your focus where it belongs

      So what can you do? First, you can decide to put your phone and other devices away, or at least set them to silent, when focusing on an important project. Deal with distractions before they happen. If you don’t receive notifications, you won’t be distracted. Tell your colleagues that you need to focus on a task, and that they will have to phone you or come to your office if there’s an emergency.

      There’s also a useful technique you can use that will quickly get you back on track:

      The 20 Second Rule

      Advertising

        Positive psychologist Shawn Achor believes that 20 seconds can make all the difference when it comes to behavior change. Specifically, making tasks slightly easier or more accessible will encourage you to do them, whereas making a behavior slightly harder will decrease the likelihood that you will give in to your urges. If something – such as checking your social media – takes you 20 seconds longer to do, you’re less likely to do it.

        What does this mean for those of us struggling to manage distractions? Basically, you need to make it slightly more difficult to give into temptation – to check your e-mail, to respond to a notification, and so forth. For example, move your phone so that it takes you 20 seconds longer to reach it, or disable a messaging app so that it takes you 20 seconds longer to log in and enable it again. This approach means you do not have to rely on willpower. Instead, you will have set up a reliable system that facilitates good habits.[5]

        Regain your control over distractions

        Remember, most notifications aren’t going to be urgent, and that social media isn’t going to help you get any work done. Advances in technology may mean that it’s harder than ever before to focus on a project, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become more productive. It just requires commitment, practice, and a determination to manage your messages – don’t let them manage you! Remember, building a 20-second temporal gap between yourself and a source of distraction is all you need to do to regain control.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

        Feel That Life Is Meaningless? Here’s How to Find Meaning How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life The Careful Art of Delegation: How to Delegate Effectively How the Flow State Helps You Stay Productive and Concentrate What Is A Flow State And How To Achieve It For Productivity

        Trending in Smartcut

        1 10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner 2 8 Time Management Strategies for Busy People 3 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 4 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 5 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on September 9, 2021

        10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

        Advertising
        10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

        Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

        Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

        We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

        As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

        Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

        Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

        1. The One Thing Planner

        The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

        As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

        Get the planner here!

        2. The Full Life Planner

        The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

        With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

        Get the planner here!

        3. The Freedom Journal

        Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

        Advertising

        From their site:

        “The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

        Get the planner here!

        4. Full Focus Planner

        Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

        From the site:

        “Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

        This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

        Get the planner here!

        5. Passion Planner

        They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

        From the site:

        “An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

        They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

        They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

        Advertising

        Get the planner here!

        6. Desire Map Planners

        If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

        Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

        Get the planner here!

        7. Franklin Covey Planners

        The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

        From the site:

        “Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

        Get the planner here!

        8. Productivity Planner

        From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

        Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

        It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

        From the site:

        “Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

        Get the planner here!

        9. Self Journal

        Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

        Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

        Get the planner here!

        10. Google Calendar

        You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

        Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

        If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

        Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

        Get the planner here!

        Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

        Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

        The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

        Block #1: Desire

        Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

        Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

        Advertising

        A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

        Block #2: Strategy

        Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

        In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

        Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

        In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

        “What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

        This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

        Block #3: Focus

        With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

        Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

        Block #4: Rhythm

        The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

        Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

        Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

        The Bottom Line

        Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

        Advertising

        As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

        More Tools to Boost Your Productivity

        Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

        Read Next