We live in a multitasking world. And instant access communication is central to that world. Between email, texts, social networks, Facetime, and oh yeah, phones, your friends, colleagues and all others, not only can contact you anytime, but expect that you respond instantly.
These are a few of the observations made by leading academics when asked about the impact of technology on our working lives:
- The frequency of distraction is inversely correlated with productivity
- Constantly breaking attention means that people must do more work just to sustain concentration
- Excessive task-switching affects the depth of thinking and the quality of decision-making
So how can we accomplish all the work we need to get done in this highly connected world?
Don’t Answer That Phone – If I don’t know who is calling, I don’t answer it. Plain and simple. That is what voicemail is for.
Use Privacy Mode to Limit Callers – I take control of who can ring my cellphone by using Privacy Mode. That way only the people who I allow can actually ring my phone.
Only Read the Important Email – I don’t read email very often. When I do, I make sure that I read the important ones first. I use the new VIP Inbox and a great service called Sanebox to make sure that my most important email is what I see first.
Don’t Read Unsolicited Email – Lots of people complain about spam. I don’t get much. But, the ones I do, I just don’t read. Delete, delete, delete.
Use Quick Forms of Communication – A quick IM, text, or tweet can be much more efficient in some circumstances. Sometimes it is not necessary to get on the phone or have a face-to-face chat.
I Shut My Door - When I am working on something that needs concentration and uninterrupted creative time, I shut my door. Don’t let some misguided open-door policy prevent you from getting your work done.
Set Expectations – One of the best ways to limit interruptions is to set expectations with your team. Ensure they know the preferred methods of communications and when it is appropriate to interrupt.
Practice the Right to Decline – Many people feel guilty if they do not answer their phone or immediately respond to an email. Give yourself permission to decline the interruptions.