3 Practices to Become Indistractable at Work

We often start our work day with the best of intentions to get specific tasks done — to get traction on our work — but invariably, those plans get derailed as we get distracted throughout our day. I recently spoke with Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Lifeabout what we can do to become less distracted and more productive. We discussed a few key practices, outlined below, that can help.

Timebox your work.

Timeboxing is effectively making (and keeping) a meeting with yourself. Pick a task, when to do it, determine for how long and block it on your calendar. Not only is timeboxing one of the most effective productivity tools, designed to keep us focused on the task at hand, but it gives us a greater sense of control — one of the key elements missing in many workplaces that can create the negative emotions that often serve as internal triggers to distraction. Further, when we timebox our activities, we are by definition, single-tasking versus multi-tasking. The former is far more productive, with research indicating that 40% of our productivity is lost by the task-switching involved in multi-tasking.

Eyal recommends booking the amount of time you want to spend on a task regardless of whether you finish it. Finishing it should not be the metric. The only metric should be, “Did I do what I said I was going to do for as long as I said I was going to do it without distraction?” When you do this, Eyal asserts that you are much more likely to finish the task, versus the person who works solely off of his to-do list, who is the person who ends up taking work home every night.

If you’re like me and all of those small tasks on your list fly around in your head like gnats, distracting you from focusing on the bigger stuff, Eyal suggests time-boxing these smaller tasks first in your day to get them done. What you don’t want is a scenario where you’ve scheduled time to work on an important project, but instead, you’re doing these small to-do’s.

Schedule sync with your boss to set priorities.

A common challenge I’ve seen with many of my coaching clients that I raised with Eyal is that many people will block out time to focus on something important and their co-workers — their boss or peers — will book over it. To address this. Eyal recommends doing what he calls a weekly “schedule sync” with your boss. This is when, in keeping a time-boxed calendar, you sit down with your boss for 15 minutes at the beginning of each week and say, “Here’s my calendar for the week. Here’s how I plan to spend my time, and here’s the stuff I won’t get to on this other list.” This way, your boss will either agree with what you’ve planned, or help you reprioritize.

Read full article HERE.
Rebecca Zucker

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