Distractions loom at every corner of our lives. There is barely any moment anymore when we are not bombarded by interruption marketers and tons of visual pollution. TV, our online world, our “smart” phones, and the newest domain – our cars are getting Wi-Fi hotspots. They all are jam packed with distractions.
All this clutter means clutter in your head. Clutter and chatter leads to you thinking you got a lot done at the end of a day when in fact you only made incremental progress. Instead of feeling elated you feel frustrated. This distraction is costly.
One key area you can make a huge difference almost instantaneously is how you use your e-mail and the Internet.
- Turn off your e-mail notification. Do you ever catch yourself clicking on the new mail link right away? You are at least looking at the notification for a while, right? If so, turn it off. Turn off the sounds too.
- Never read e-mail first thing in the morning. Take a peek if you have any emergencies at hand. Otherwise, do not open or answer any mail until you have carried out your first couple tasks you wanted to get done for the day.
- Set a time and schedule e-mail responses in your calendar. Yes, putting a placeholder in your schedule will allow for fewer interruptions and unscheduled meetings to surprise you.
- If you are not in the “To” address line, do not read the mail. You may think I am crazy, but this is a great distraction buster. My logic is that if the person mailing you did not think it was important enough placing you in the “To” line, then why should I read it? Skim it when you have time. It teaches your folks sending you mail to really think about if they really need your input.
- Divide and conquer your inbox. Divide your mail into two types: The ones you will respond to during the course of the day. The other ones you change to the “unread” status. Here is what you do with it if you have not responded to it in three weeks: DELETE it. If this much time has gone by and no one is asking for an answer it could not have been important. Radical? Perhaps, but it is extremely effective.
- Only leave your “unread mail” view open. This assures that you are not getting side tracked by other and old mail. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Only leave Internet browser tabs open that are relevant to what you need to do. Leaving social media ones and inactive ones open will only allow further distractions to happen. Leaving them open will also allow certain sites insights as to your online activities and preferences. Close these tabs.
So you don’t believe me how much distractions cost you? Are you up for a challenge? Prove me wrong and for ten days journal how much time you spend on your daily tasks. After ten days read and reflect upon your journal entries. You will be amazed how much time you are spending on e-mail and Internet. Do not let these distractions run and ruin your life.