Do Not Disturb

There is a far better reason for hanging a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on your door in front of your office, than to merely enjoy a little peace and quiet. Researchers from Michigan State University have conducted extensive research for the US Navy. They have shown that people make double or even triple the number of mistakes, they would normally make, immediately after they have been interrupted. Even if the interruption lasts only a second or two, the results remain the same. Distractions do not only waste time, they cause major disruptions to your thinking.

Even Small Distractions Steel your Success

Their research showed that it does not take much to distract you at all; even the smallest interruption or distraction, will cause you to lose your concentration and increased the possibility of you making errors three fold. After you are distracted, there is a delay, between acknowledging the distraction and finding your place once again. This delay is called “Resumption Lag”. It is for this reason that attempting to engage in multi-tasking, does not make you efficient, all it does is rob you of any productivity at all.

Resumption Lag

When you try to multi-task or you allow interruptions throughout your day, you are spending your day lost in “Resumption Lag”. In other words you are three times more likely to make mistakes, you are unfocused and you are not able to give your full attention to anything. Does that sound familiar? Do you feel like you are working really hard, yet you seem to get so little done every day? It is not a lack of time you are wrestling with. The reason you are not getting all the things you need done every day, is simply that you are spending your days consumed by “Resumption Lag”. This means that you are spending very little time invested into getting the important tasks done every day. You are just spinning your wheels, achieving very little at all.

Do you feel Like you just can’t get going every day?

Most people spend their lives locked in a cycle of interruption and resumption of work, so they never actually invest any quality time focused on achieving the results they want. This stop-start modality sees people trying to develop momentum every day, with their brakes firmly applied. How can anyone expect to achieve anything meaningful, if they are constantly standing in their own way?

Action Idea: Schedule just 30 minutes today, where you can enjoy uninterrupted time to focus on a few important priority tasks. At the end of the 30 minutes, check how much productive work you actually get done. During the following 30 minutes, operate normally and see how little you will get done, during the same time frame. Repeat this exercise a number of times, until you are convinced that productivity and success depend on focus, prioritisation and zero interruptions.

Making this work for you

Now that you are convinced, it is time to start creating a schedule to support you to get as many uninterrupted time slots in your day as possible. Once you have done the 30 minute exercise and you get to see how much you can get done, during uninterrupted time slots. Imagine if you could build a daily schedule with at least 3 – 4 hours of uninterrupted productivity, every day.

Donald Trump and Richard Branson don’t have any more time than you have. All they have is a commitment to remain focused every day. They use their available time as efficiently as possible and work without interruption. You are no different. Remove the interruptions from your life and you will have uncovered one of the secrets of all super achievers.

Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton

andrew horton



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