Did you know that the average person switches work activity every 10.5 minutes?
Many will go from email to work documents to the web looking for information and trying to piece resources together to complete one single project.
Did you also know that it can take up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task once you’ve been interrupted?
Surprised and wondering where the numbers I gave you came from? Check them out here and here.
Considering we interrupt ourselves with a new work activity every 10 minutes or so, that means bad news for our productivity.
Some may think that this is just part of work in the 21st century. The reality is, that not being intentional about what we do and how we work has some serious costs:
30 minutes per day are wasted looking for information.
When you lack information management systems, you lose time searching for passwords, website addresses, and client proposals. That’s 3 hours per week, 168 hours per year, and nearly $17,000 if your hourly rate is $100.
1 hour per day getting swept up in social media distractions.
That’s 20 hours per month, 240 hours per year, and $24,000 if your hourly rate is $100.
75% drop in productivity due to switching back and forth between projects.
According to Justin Davies, this means that out of an 8-hour workday only 2 hours are spent productively. That’s a loss of $600 per day and $145,000 per year if you’re hourly rate is $100.
If you feel that you are suffering from a productivity leak, consider these:
4 Strategies to Skyrocket Your Productivity
1. Doubletask Instead of Multitasking
I’m sure you’ve heard that multitasking is not the way to get more stuff done.
It’s been proven that multitasking significantly slows you down, because you are interrupting your focus and productivity by quickly switching from one task to another.
Avoid multitasking–doing two mental activities at the same time–at all costs. I’m talking about things like watching TV while writing a blog post or “listening” to your husband while reading a client’s e-mail.
If you HAVE to do two tasks at once, doubletask instead of multitask. What makes doubletasking so efficient is that you engage in two different types of activities—a mental and physical one (e.g., listening to a podcast while working out or ironing ;).
Those types of activities don’t compete for the same resources, and that’s what makes them a good match.
2. Declare War on Distractions
Distractions are deadly to our productivity. Our focus can be broken in an instant by a single thought like remembering that we didn’t finish something or having a new insight or idea. Not to mention e-mails, phone calls, kids, adults we share our workspace with, social media, and myriad other things that can easily disrupt you.
To fight distractions, create a list of things that distract you on a regular basis and devise strategies to get yourself back on track:
Find yourself constantly interrupted by e-mail? => Close your Inbox and switch off notifications on your phone.
Can’t resist checking social media? => Temporarily block those sites by using tools like:
Cold Turkey (Windows)
Stay Focusd (Chrome)
Get annoyed because your partner distracts you by asking questions or making noise? => Ask them to help you turn certain blocks of times into an uninterrupted work time.
Get interrupted by the kids? => Arrange for the periods of time when they are not around for maximum productivity. You’ll be able to give them your full attention when they are back.
Feel that if you don’t take care of things immediately, they will never happen? => Work on habits to maintain your task list.
Regularly have to go back to fix something that hasn’t been finished 100%? => Start paying attention to the last 5%. (*See my next point.)
I bet once you do that, you’ll see immediate difference in your productivity!
3. Do the Last 5%
Have you ever found yourself in one of these situations?
- You prepared a launch e-mail, but left checking the links for later.
- You received an e-mail with the date and time of a meeting, but didn’t bother to record it right away in your calendar.
- You took somebody’s business card at an event and promised to get in touch, but didn’t add it to your task list to follow up with that person.
- You started writing a response e-mail, but decided to finish it at another time.
I don’t think you need me to tell you how those stories end.
I bet it’s a variation of:
- Rushing to resend the launch e-mail with “Working link” in the subject line;
- Having to profusely apologize to a person you missed a meeting with;
- Going to an event, seeing the person you forgot to follow up with and trying to avoid them the entire evening;
- Finding your unfinished response in your Drafts folder 3 weeks later.
I know these things because I’ve been in similar situations myself. So, this is not to shame you, but bring your awareness to the last 5%.
Next time you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll finish this at another time,” stop yourself, take a minute (because that’s how long it usually takes!), and complete the task.
No time to do it? Put it on a to-do list you regularly review.
4. Watch Where Your Time Goes
Oh, the dreaded time tracking! I know it’s not fun. I struggle with this myself. But every time I get myself back on track and become intentional about recording where my time goes, I learn a lot about my working habits and feel invested to break the ones that don’t serve me.
There are plenty of tools that can help you track your time. Here are some examples:
Put one of them to use and stick with it at least for 5 days. (You can also decide how you’ll reward yourself for doing that).
Tracking time will give you a realistic picture of where your time goes, so that you can jumpstart your productivity.
Back to You:
Although most of these strategies might sound common sense, I urge you to commit to one of the tips for the next 30 days to see the difference one simple thing can make.