Increase your productivity up to 33%

By Ted Behr, M. Ed., CPCC, ACC

How would you like to get more stuff done in less time and with less effort?  If you are a knowledge worker – and most of us are these days – it really is pretty simple.  So how do you do it?  Eliminate interruptions as much as possible.  (I said “simple”, not “easy”.)

Research has shown that knowledge workers spend over 25% of their time dealing with interruptions.  Did you know that when you are interrupted for as little as 3 seconds when you are really focused and concentrating on your work, it takes up to 40 minutes to get back to that same level of concentration?  Three such interruptions could cost you 120 minutes – or 2 hours – of productivity.  Eliminating interruptions and recouping that 2 hours (of an 8-hour day) would increase your productivity by 33%.

So, how do you go about reducing interruptions?  You can turn off your phone(s) and turn off email and Facebook notifications.  To keep other people from interrupting you, close the door to your office if you have one.  If you work in a cubicle or open office, get a pair of headphones or a special baseball cap that you put on when you don’t want to be disturbed.

If you have a tendency to interrupt yourself when you are in the middle of a task, try using the time management technique called “time boxing.”  In time boxing, you commit to working on a task or project for a specific amount of time without interruption.  For a description of the Pomodoro Technique, an easily applied form of time boxing, click here: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/pomodoro-technique.htm.

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