The biggest time-robber during your work day is “multi-tasking”.
Multi-tasking might work for a little while (and it’s unavoidable in some situations), but it’s ineffective in the long run.
Because you aren’t able to focus your attention and work on the details of important things.
When you don’t focus, your mind can’t figure out what to do.
Your attention gets drawn away and you lose sight of how to complete even the simplest task.
In their book “The Power of Full Engagement“, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz call multi-tasking working in “the grey zone”.
This is the place where everything seems to gel together, creating a sort of “work goop” where you feel exhausted and don’t feel like you’ve got ANYTHING done!
This is “busy work”, like checking email, looking at Social Media websites and not doing the most productive things you can.
I’m sure that you’ve had those sorts of days, I certainly know I have.
So, how do you combat this “grey zone”? I mean, isn’t “multi-tasking” supposed to get more things done in less time?
The simple answer is no… multi-tasking only robs you of your ability to produce and sucks your time away.
The way to avoid the multi-tasking is to work in focused blocks of uninterrupted time.
In the book I mentioned before called “The Power of Full Engagement” they talk about sixty minutes “chunks” being the most time you’ll want to spend on a task at a given session.
Meaning that if you spend an hour working on something you should make sure that you at least get up from your desk and walk around a bit, or (if you can) go outside and take a walk to get your head clear.
When I first started putting this into practice I did what Eben Pagan taught in his “Wake Up Productive” program, which is something he called “clean cuts”.
If I was working on something on the computer for my hour long “work session”, I would do something different during my break time. For example, if I was working on a technical thing (such as why certain types of emails weren’t being delivered) and my alarm goes off, I’d do something physical (for example, fold laundry or wash some dishes).
You see, this “resets” your body and allows your mind to focus on something else.
This “mini break” allows your brain to come up with fresh ideas and cleans any mental blockage that you might have.
Not to mention you get to feel accomplished because you spent an hour doing a high leverage thing and creates value.
The way I handle this is with a timer. I set the timer for 60 minutes and begin working.
It’s weird and (in fact) sorta counterintuitive in that when the times starts I am free to work within the confines of that hour. I don’t have email to distract me, I don’t answer the phone and I don’t respond back to text messages. I am focused and have energy to CREATE.
During the time that I’m working, it’s focused. I’m able to relax into the timer and not worry about what to do. I can take a single challenge or problem and work exclusively on that. I don’t need to deal with distractions and I can effectively avoid “rabbit holes”.
In fact, I use my phone now for this because most “smart phones” have built-in timers.
When you setup the conditions such that you can focus on your highest value items you can really get a lot done and look stellar to your boss.
It’s a simple formula and it essentially goes like this:
In order to ask for a raise, you need to prove that you can provide value.
You provide value by the results that you produce.
This could be tangible results, like something someone can touch or feel, or it would be marketing ideas or managing people. Your results aren’t going to look the same as mine.
The point is that you are known by your results.
In the past, things like “attendance” mattered and getting the boss the right kind of whiskey at the company Christmas party.
Good or bad, that’s no longer the case.
In today’s technological world there is always someone who can do you job faster, smarter and (probably) better than you can… always.
This is why your personal results at work are so important.
When you “multi-task” you aren’t able to focus on a single thing and, in fact, it distracts you from doing what you are best at.
Your mind can’t keep things straight and you are much more apt to fall down a “rabbit hole” for something that either (1) doesn’t matter, (2) isn’t going to provide long-term results or (3) can be handled by someone else.
So, start working in focused blocks of uninterrupted time in order to produce higher quality results and use those results to prove your value to the company.
It’s that value that you prove that will eventually become money in your pocket for years to come.
Trust me, the rewards down the road will really pay off for you.
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Thanks for reading.
Talk to you soon,