Easy Productivity Tips

Brain research has pretty well debunked the myth of multi-tasking.  Our brains only focus on one thing at a time. We may think that we are doing two things at once well, but we are really doing two things poorly.  We are more efficient, effective, creative and productive when we relearn to focus our full attention on doing only one thing at a time.

Researchers found that the Outlook’s® pop-up e-mail notification, the pop-up on-screen summary that shows each new message as it arrives, can cause a computer user to be distracted from his/her original task for an extended period of time. College students who participated in their study were distracted from their focused mental flow state for up to 18 minutes or longer as they opened, read, processed, responded or deleted, the e-mail message and then returned to the basic computer project they were originally working on. That was 18 minutes for each pop-up!

We have all become accustomed to batting away e-mails like mosquitoes and having multiple windows open on our screens while talking on the phone, texting, watching TV and unfortunately for some, driving!  This is an accident waiting to happen even if you are in the safety of your office or cube.  Distraction is one of the leading causes of workplace inefficiencies, errors and accidents. 

Many of us have become addicted to distraction and have developed a very low tolerance for boredom.  This is costing corporations billions of dollars and a few lives (driving safely requires your full focus).

So what’s a weary, distracted modern worker to do?

Here are a couple of easy tips you can use to improve your focus and productivity by reducing your distractions.

  • Manage your e-mail message notifications.
  • Open Outlook ® and click on the “Tools” and then “Options” menus.

 How to reduce e-mail distractions.

1)       Click on E-mail Options…

2)       Click on Advanced E-mail Options

3)       Uncheck all four boxes in the “When new items arrive in my Inbox” section.

4)       Click OK on each of the open Windows to save and close them.

  • Check your e-mail only once every 30 minutes or hour depending on the urgent nature of your typical messages.  This will allow your brain to enter a high-performance flow state and will help you to focus your attention.
  • Turn off the e-mail notifications on your Blackberry ®.
  • Turn your Blackberry ® to silent mode or turn it off and put it into your glove compartment just before you start your car.  It’s too tempting to keep it close by.
  • Learn to recognize your feelings of boredom and allow yourself to become bored instead of seeking multiple electronic mental stimulation.  Some of the world’s best ideas were no-doubt the product of a quiet, focused, boring moment.

The moral of the story is to prioritize your work so that you have a plan. Then you work your plan, doing only one thing at a time.

Take control of your distractions today!

About Andrew W Dix, MS, BCC
Author, Board Certified Executive Business Coach, Trainer, Reiss Motivation Profile Master and Private Pilot. Expertise in motivational intelligence, leadership development, strengths, management, coaching, and change management. Available for keynote addresses.

One Response to Easy Productivity Tips

  1. Jackie says:

    These are great tips. It’s amazing what productivity tools Outlook has.

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