Having a time turner would be fantastic, we would be able to get so much more done. We could do our work, learn a new language and go on that morning jog that we’ve always been meaning to do. If only there were a way to get more done. And the answer, in true Dilbert fashion, is to work smarter not harder!
Understand that issues of productivity are issues of focus
When you are trying to get work done quickly and effectively, the most important resource to you is your focus. With good focus tasks naturally shorten themselves as you can devote as much brain space as you need towards sorting them out. Human brains are only effective at working on one problem at a time: any more, and it begins to lose momentum when switching between tasks.
Because of this, we can say with confidence that the key to becoming more productive is to improve your focus and eliminate distractions that might split your brain between tasks, making it slower overall.
Eliminating distractions is essential
We’ve heard this one in every article about productivity and effective working that has ever been written. So, I’m going to assume that you’ve been told to death that you should put your phone on silent, turn your TV off and listen to music that will drown out noise without being so interesting as to distract you.
Instead, I’m going to suggest that you consider distractions that occur even after you’ve put your phone away and turned to your desk. Consider how often you think to yourself; Do I have any new messages on Facebook? Have my friends got back to me about dinner? Should I recheck my LinkedIn for more connections?
These are the real distractions that we face; they come from within and are the most difficult to tackle. There are no easy ways to deal with this sort of problem and no quick fixes. The only option you have is to train yourself to put it to the back of your mind and continue until you find a suitable period to take a break.
How to take a break that will leave you feeling refreshed
Speaking of breaks, how many times have we taken 10 minutes off to refresh ourselves and come back to work more distracted than before? My question you is this, what were you doing during your break? If the answer is something along the lines of, checking my phone, watching Youtube or scrolling through social media, then you may have a very common problem.
Our phones are designed to be the most attention-grabbing and accessible devices that we own. How many of use at our desks could, in less than two seconds, grab our phone and check our social media of choice? The issue is that phones don’t provide our brains with the rest break that they need; they only consume more of our focus.
Try to spend your breaks away from screens, try staring out of a window or at the ceiling. You may feel odd or bored, but that is just your brain taking a well-needed break. When you come back to work, you’ll thank yourself for it. If you have a more extended period before you need to get back to work, then take a walk without your phone, I guarantee you will feel ready to go and filled with ideas afterwards.
Do you have any thoughts about productivity, focus and how to treat our brains well? Do let us know in the comments!