We are surrounded by information – it is all pervading. We cannot get away from it. We are 2 seconds away from the world wide web with a phone in our pocket, 2 seconds away from interacting with our friends via Facebook and Twitter, 2 seconds away from watching a YouTube video, 2 seconds away from text, email, google, Snapchat, WhatsApp – the list goes on.
This highly connected state is detrimental to our productivity, and indeed, to our quality of life as a whole. I have just deleted Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn off my phone, turned off my message and email notifications and have imposed a strict timeframe where I can use email and social media.
This is because all of these tools are reactive.
When you get a message, email, notification or anything of that ilk, the interruption immediately occupies your attention and you are likely to react to whatever it is that has caused the intrusion. This reactive lifestyle is a poor way to use your time. The constant noise in your brain impinges on creativity, original thought and mental hyperawareness – we are suspended in word where we wait for our next notification to know what to do next.
Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about proactivity. The proactive person is the person who is most productive. Completing activities that are preplanned, deliberate and aligned with a higher goal that you have is the essence of proactivity. The deliberate planning requires prior thought. Responding to email or a notification isn’t proactive, you are merely responding to what is in front of you and are not master of your own destiny. Planning your day around themes that you want to achieve in order to be successful IS proactive.
My day now has the following rules attached to it: –
No emails until 2pm – by responding there and then to email, you are responding to somebody else’s agenda. To remain in control of your own agenda, respond to emails at a set time. Emails that come to your inbox you will check during that set time. Emails will either require action, in which case you place the necessary item on your todo and complete when it suits, or will require no action. By controlling email this way, I hope to be in greater control.
Phone off during themed working activities. The phone will go back on again after a theme. During this time, I plan to take a walk and make the necessary phonecalls that come up during my time of disconnection.
3 Themes per day – 2 morning themes and 1 afternoon. By having themes to work on, I keep my work focussed and productive, I will be able to concentrate better and avoid distraction. More importantly, if an idea for an activity comes into my head for something to do, I will know whether or not to pursue if it is in keeping with my current concentration theme.
All notifications on the phone OFF. Notifications are again an impingement into your life and take you outside of your present concentration. I will check my backup once I feel the time is appropriate.
Eliminate Facebook entirely from my life.
Spend 15 minutes every morning solidifying my todo list. The clarity gained by creating a solid todo list is unbelievable. The feeling of direction and purpose by doing this first thing in the morning will set my day up to be a great one.
These rules will hopefully give me the blueprint I require to become proactive. And, as a result, I hope that my productivity will skyrocket! I have implemented this strategy for a morning now and I already feel less cluttered and more focussed. Long may it continue. If you need me, leave a message!