We all get distractions, whether it’s watching TV, video games or online sites like Digg, Delicious and Reddit. It can become a huge strain on your life. A study has shown that the average American watches 28 hours of TV a week, that’s almost ¾ of a full-time job! If distractions cause you to procrastinate and things take twice as long to accomplish, you’re losing a lot of time on other important things in life, like friends and family. Don’t lose sight on your goals and purposes, cut out your distractions immediately!
First of all, let’s remind ourselves that time is money. As suggested by Randy Pausch, what are you worth an hour? Time must be managed, like money so you better find out where your time is going. Paush suggests getting a time journal and filling it in informally. It will give you data on where you’re wasting time and how much of it is gone.
A study reports that a typical office worker wastes almost two hours a day because their desk is messy, they can’t find things, they miss appointments, are unprepared for meetings or can’t concentrate. I know a lot of these things affect me, probably more than two hours. So this is how a time journal can help, you’ll know exactly how much time you waste on a regular basis.
A huge distraction for me is email. I always have my Gmail tab open and every time “Inbox (1)” appears, I feel compelled to check it right away. Paush points out that this interrupts what you are working on and every time it happens, you lose momentum and focus. Instead, he suggests to check your email up to three times a day for 20-30 minutes at a time and to not start your day by checking emails. You should start your day with the top priority items on your daily priority list and do not get distracted by all your emails.
Another tip is to archive all your emails. I didn’t learn about this until recently and it’s been a life saver. To archive your emails means they are no longer in your inbox but they haven’t been deleted either. An uncluttered inbox means an uncluttered mind. Your inbox is not your to do list. Instead, deal with your emails right away, either archive it, delegate it, or reply to it. This way, you’re not reading emails over again and again or forgetting about an email that gets lost when it gets pushed back to the second page.
So start your time journal to find out what your major distractions are and make a plan to cut them out. You’ll find so much more time in your life for other things. You’ll cut down on stress and things will get done before the deadline!
I highly recommend watching Randy Paush’s lecture, or reading the transcript.