Have you ever uttered the phrase, “If I only had a few more minutes (hours, days)?”
Are you pulled in several directions, often at the same time? Emails, IM’s, friends tagging you on Facebook (Snapchat, Instagram), deadlines at work, family events — the list is daunting. Time is easily our most precious and rare resource.
We are all equally rich (or poor) in time (as Hermione’s Time Turner is not yet available to the masses). My 24 hours is no more or no less than Richard Branson’s or Gary Vaynerchuck’s — but the productivity I packed into each 24-hour day fell short by comparison. I began to wonder if my multi-tasking approach was more disruptive than constructive.
Enter “Deep Work Lite.” A couple of years ago I stumbled across the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. The concept of deep work applies best to people who do thought work: programmers, writers, researchers, designers, craftsman, and so forth. Newport discusses the very nature of the role of company leaders makes some of the more traditional deep work practices improbable, if not impossible. However, there are some practices, I dubbed Deep Work “Lite,” that have had a significant impact on my productivity.
Begin by turning off your notifications on your phone and your computer. You are not saving the world and do not need to respond immediately to everything. Imagine my surprise when I realized that leading a company did not make me that important. I have three to four times throughout my workday when I check my emails — and only during those times. This is more efficient as I solve each email (as opposed to leaving the hard ones to do later — touching the same email over and over again) and I don’t get sucked in with notifications to "just take a quick look."
I was oblivious to just how much productivity is lost when we cater to all those quick little intrusions. Why? Because we don’t just pick up where we left off. We have to get back into our groove we left behind. Our brains need to work back to the place they were before we yanked it away. A recent study cited that we lose about 22 minutes of productivity for each of these "quick" interruptions. You will increase your productivity dramatically by giving yourself the space to work deeply and without interruption.
This sounds so simple — but we are programmed to be “on demand” to so many all the time. Regardless of our role; parents, leaders, friends; the expectation to respond to every text, email, Facebook tag immediately seems urgent and paramount.
I know this may come as a real shocker — but the world will keep turning without our immediate responses to every request. The struggle to shut out the noise and allow yourself to dive deep into a project, professional or personal, is real. But the benefits of deep work; increased output and more time for what is most important to YOU; are just as real. Ask yourself, do you want to move through life with intent or on auto-pilot?
Another baby step? Go for a walk (run, hike) without your phone and let your mind do the rest. My most creative ideas and insights happen when I run. My brain is free to explore endless avenues to tackle strategic problems or generate my next big idea. Build these activities into your calendar.
New habits are hard to develop and old habits are even harder to shake. Don’t give up when you hit a speed bump. I have days where my intentions match my actions; and days where my intentions get lost and forgotten. But there is always tomorrow.
Cheri Dudek-Kuhn is a Professional EOS Implementer and CEO for Orchard Corset. Read her leadership blogs at cheridudek.com/category/latest-news.