56! 56 is the number of distractions for the average person nowadays! This equates to more than 2 hours a day being wasted.
We live in a world where everything around us is desperate for our attention. Our TVs, phones, social media accounts and emails are constantly begging us to look at them! This is one of the reasons we struggle to find time for the people and things that really matter to us.
How many of you have ever had to sacrifice seeing an old friend because you had to work late or finish something at home? How many of you had to work late because you weren’t as productive as you can be? I guess all of us at some point have been a victim of time, or the lack thereof.
The first thing you need to do so that this doesn’t happen again, is plan.
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”
This is a quote you’ll hear me use often and I truly believe in its meaning. A simple way to plan your days is to make lists. Don’t be mistaken that lists should be full of chores. Instead, add to your list all the tasks that you need to do for a given period of time. Also, put a guesstimate of how long each task will take you. This will give you a realistic view of whether what you’re after is achievable within that period of time. If you find yourself trying to do 30 hours work in a 24-hour day, then make sure to have your priorities right. Something you might need to look at is if there are things you can do at the same time.
My sister keeps messing with me because I have lists for everything. I have a shopping list, as you do. I have a list of books I want to read. I have a list of things I am planning to do on the weekend. I think this is where my sister’s frustration comes from – she sees me writing in my to do list “badminton – 2h” and asks why it even needs to be on the list, as obviously I’m going to go and it’s something I enjoy. As I said earlier, this is just to help me see how much time I’ll have available on the weekend and plan the rest of the day off accordingly.
Another good thing about having a list is that once you write things down, you won’t have to remember those things in the back of your mind. This means that you’ll have more brain memory to store actual knowledge.
When you know what your plan is, it’s time to put it in action.
To remain productive whilst doing this you need to tame the distractions around you. It’s an unwritten rule in the life of productivity that if you want to get something done, you need to get rid of your phone. Put it away, on silent mode and no vibration. People sometimes think that leaving on the vibration on their phones is the same as leaving it on silent, but they are wrong. The temptation to check your phone when vibration goes off is the same as it is if you hear it making a sound.
The other thing you can do to reduce the amount of distractions in your days is to learn to say no. That is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life so far. This is because I am the person you could call in the middle of the night knowing I’ll jump out of bed for you. I am the person who you wouldn’t even have to ask a favour, as I’ll offer to help you anyway. I am the person who will prioritise your problems over my own. I’m not suggesting you become horrible people and stop helping your friends. What I’m saying is that there will be a time in your life when you will realise that in order to help others you should have helped yourself first.
Last but not least, listen to your body. We tend to ignore our bodies’ demands, thinking that if we satisfy them, we won’t have the time to tick off all the boxes in our lists. The truth, however, is that half an hour break or a little snack might double our productivity afterwards. So, if your body asks for rest, give it some. If it asks for chocolate, give it some. And if doesn’t ask for either of those, give it some regardless, you might have a shy body.
Now you know how it all works from start to finish. To summarise, you need to know what the end goal is, you get a plan of action, resist the temptation of getting distracted and listen to your body.
Finally let me ask you something. Who wants to have time for the things they want to do? I bet that you do (exactly you, reading this blog), and your friends do, and your colleagues do. In fact, we all do. Then why wait? Take control of your life time today!