According to a 2005 article in Computing Canada entitled “Statistically Speaking,” allowing frequent email interruptions causes a drop in performance equivalent to losing 10 IQ points. (Source: The Age of Speed, NY Times Best Selling Book)
Stated another way, responding to emails as they “ding” into your inbox reduces your performance two and a half times more than smoking weed.
This post is not a preface to my launching a Weed in the Workplace productivity improvement program. Can you imagine incentive trips to Amsterdam? Grateful Dead elevator music? USB powered Hookah pipes? No, me either.
What I am suggesting, is that you need the guts to click the big red box on the top right of your email inbox or power down your PDA as you do your most important activities.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that email is the life blood of business communication, especially for road warriors like myself. That some people are “on call” or that answering email is their job. But for most of us, email is only a means to an end. You only have so much energy and willpower. If you do not direct it at your most important activities, then interruptions will steal your day from you. Have you looked up at the end of the day wondered, “What did I really get accomplished today?”
Especially for mentally challenging tasks, allowing interruptions is like turning the lights out in a gymnasium. After you flip the switch back on, it takes a frustratingly long time for the lights to actually return to full power.
OK, I am sure you get the idea. Let’s put it to work. Here are some step-by-steps ideas for More Great Days at Work:
1. Define your Peak Moments. If you could only work two hours a day, but your coworkers or competitors could work full days, what would you do in those two hours to keep up or keep your job? These are your Peak Moments.
2. When you are doing #1, turn off everything that could distract you.
Is this idea overly simple? Maybe. Is it something you have heard before? Probably. Is this a good reminder? I hope so. When you do it, will it help you in amazing ways? You bet.
Andy also wrote the book Change Your Day, Not Your Life, a guide to sustained motivation and more productivity.
See Andy's speaking schedule for an event near you.
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