Turning the world ‘off’ could dramatically improve your life by removing so many distractions, stressors and problems. Part of this is getting away from all the social distractions, but a big chunk of it is finally being able to focus on one single task and get that done.
You may think that multi-tasking get’s more done, but sadly it doesn’t. Priority management get’s things done, but the only way you’ll be able to do that is if you’re able to focus on one single task at a time. So what does that mean? Simply put, it means not getting distracted by social media, phone calls and email.
Before I get into the things you can do and the steps you can take to ‘turn the world off’, let me tell you why it’s a good idea (in detail) and why, as a side task, to schedule tasks during your day.
First off: Happy 2014! Since I’m writing this post on January 2nd 2014 might as well celebrate that. Yey! Now, back to business.
Why you should turn the world off:
- It’s good for you concentration.
- Improved focus.
- You get to finally focus on the ‘right’ tasks.
- You’ll take control over your personal and business life.
- Lowered overall stress.
- Relief of not being on other people’s time, and only your own controlled time.
- More productive work time.
- You’re not turned into an addict like Pavlov’s Dog for notifications/updates.
For me, those first four are the big ones. For you, it may be other things. Every person is different, though everyone will have at least better control their life and focus because of it.
Now you know why it helps, let me tell you how it helps.
Multi-tasking works for somethings, such as your natural body. Your body is breathing, pumping blood, looking, hearing and processing everything all at the same time. BUT, that is all at the unconscious level where it’s possible. They are all automatic, and very ‘simple’ things to do. While your unconscious mind is great at doing many simple things at once … it sucks at singular high process stuff. That’s where your high functioning self (your conscious self) comes in!
You, as in your higher brain (your human brain) is great at doing ONE thing at a time extremely well. Don’t believe me?
Do you REALLY think someone who is driving on the highway in rush hour, reading a newspaper, reading a book, drinking their coffee, talking on their phone AND putting on make-up is a smart person who will live long? I don’t think so. Heck, just try reading two things at one time. It’s not going to end well for you.
So why would you try do to the same things for work or your personal life? Maybe a more realistic example is necessary. Try the following:
- Open all your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, ect…) in new windows and spread it around your desktop so you can see them all at once.
- Open your chat programs and sign in.
- Open your e-mail.
- Keep your phone on and put it on loud.
- Turn all notification windows, buzzes, sounds, pop-ups ON.
- Put a big sign outside your office door that says: “Just pop in anytime and disturb me!” (ok, this one is a bit silly)
- Turn on your favourite movie.
- Turn on the radio (or music).
- Turn on your favourite video game.
Now … try to get some work done. Do you honestly think you will? I doubt it. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe you will. But if everyone you know on all your social media accounts, chat programs and phone start trying to talk to you constantly through-out the day AND you keep responding to everyone AND you keep getting distracted by it … you really won’t get anything done. At all.
Now you know why this is important to do. That all said though, some of these aren’t possible for your work. For example, my wife currently has a contract with Sears where she has to have Skype open for team communications and updates. My sister is a military doctor and there is no way she can turn her cell phone off on regular days, and forget about when she’s ‘on call’. Then she really needs to be ready for whatever comes through the hospital doors.
So your mileage will vary on your circumstances. It’s ok. But try do minimize distractions where possible. So here are some steps you can take to ‘turn the world off’.
- Turn your e-mail program off.
- If you cannot turn your e-mail program off, Turn off e-mail notifications on your computer. No pop-ups, no sounds. Nothing.
- Even better, disable auto-update. Make it so that it will only pull new e-mails when you tell it to.
- Turn off your chat programs, or at least put them on silent or disable notifcations.
- Close your social media apps. They aren’t needed for work (unless your work is actually ON social media, but then only keep one item open at a time and work on that).
- Turn off your cell phone, or put it on silent. On android you can easily put it into complete silent mode. Or put it into airplane mode.
- Put your company phone into Do Not Disturb mode.
- Set ‘office hours’ where you will accept income phone calls. ONLY at those times will you pick up your phone. (More later on how to handle this if you work in reception or things like that.)
- Disable notifications on your phone. No sms notifications, no e-mail notifications … nothing. I believe both Android and iPhones can have set ‘do not disturb’ hours. On Android you can create a user profile for ‘work hours’ where all notifications are off.
- Close your office door and put a sign up telling co-works/others that they’ll have to come in at office hours and/or schedule an appointment to talk.
- Schedule work tasks for the day. For example, 9am to 10am calling prospects. 10.05am to 11am: writing new sales text. 11.05am to 12pm: e-mail (afterwards turn e-mail off again). 12-1 lunch. ect…
- Turn on some light NON-intrusive music that you can simply ignore and let it be completely in the background. For me, this is ‘epic’ music and classical when I’m writing. When programming it’s usually either epic music, techno, trance or lounge mixes. For business writing I like silence. For you? Well that’s whatever works for you. My wife for example can happily listen to alternative all day and work without problem. I get easily distracted by music like that.
Seems like a lot right? But it all can be condensed down to three simple items:
- Turn off notifications and distracting things.
- Schedule work items with time limits.
- Have something in the background that is NOT distracting and that helps you concentrate based on mood and work type (for example music, maybe a quiet talk podcast or no music, your choice).
So go out there, get more done in 2014 and live a better life!
What things do you do to help you be more productive and tune out the world? What works in your unique situation? I’d love to know!