When you step back and look at how much modern life is chock-full of notifications, it’s pretty frightening.
Think about how often your phone pings, beeps and bongs, screaming for your attention. I’d wager it’s a significant part of your day - and that can really hamper your ability to be productive.
I have a theory, which is that many of us sometimes mistake connectivity for productivity; the more connected we are to other people and businesses, the more we’re able to get stuff done.
Unfortunately, I think the opposite is true. But before we get there, let’s think about how you can free those feelings of being too busy and distracted to get anything done.
Stop, think and check your to-do list
I couldn’t live without my to-do list, and I think it’s a tool which will benefit pretty much everyone, no matter the industry within which they work.
Answering the question of whether you’re being productive or just ‘busy’ is made far easier if you’re working from a well-honed to-do list. It can be of the paper variety or on your favourite productivity app, but wherever it is, your to-do list will be your saviour when things get tough.
When you can no longer see the wood for the trees, stop, think and check where you are via your to-do list; it should help centre your thoughts.
Define both short and long-term goals
How do you stop yourself from procrastinating when your life is dominated by notifications? You ensure you’re working towards some solid short and long-term goals - that’s how.
A goal should be both tantalising and achievable, and you should have one for today and what you’ll do in three years’ time.
So - what’s your definition of a win for today? Write it down!
Be super-careful with meetings
Meetings are very useful indeed, but they can also be serious productivity killers.
In-person meetings are perhaps the best way to remain connected with people, but face-to-face contact doesn’t always equal high levels of productivity. In fact, sometimes, it’s the complete opposite.
We’ve all sat in meetings that are about as useful as long chain email discussions; they eat up time and leave everyone with a growing list of priorities that aren’t being tackled.
Make sure you all work together to ensure you’re operating from a concise meeting agenda that doesn’t drag on or provide opportunities for people to wander down conversational culture-de-sacs where nothing meaningful is discussed.
Separate connectivity from productivity
So, back to my theory.
If you feel like you’ve been super-busy responding to emails and direct messages all day, yet your to-do list looks pathetically untouched, you’re probably confusing connectivity with productivity.
It’s an incredibly easy mistake to make. The more easily you can reach out to people, the faster you can get things done with them, right?
Sometimes, that’s absolutely the case. But usually, too many options for connecting with people (most of which are readily available) lead to procrastination, pointless meetings, aimless email exchanges and off-topic messaging.
Use connectivity to your advantage, but don’t let it consume your daily work.
I love the connected world we live in these days. But, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated above, there are lots of opportunities for it to eat up our time and ensure we don’t get anything done.
Don’t fall into that trap!