If you’re reading this sentence, there is a 93 percent chance that you should be doing something else – like, I don’t know, maybe work. But the truth is, we’re human beings, not perfect machines, and we don’t all tap diligently away at our keyboards for eight hours straight, silently turning the great wheels of commerce from our own solitary desks.
Okay, before I fall to waxing poetic on the pros and cons of work v. spacing out, allow me to share a few tips I’ve found helpful for getting more work done in less time. These tips are especially geared towards small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who work primarily online. Start implementing them, and I guarantee that you’ll see other aspects of your business strategy start falling into place.
#1 Stop Multitasking
It doesn’t work. Researchers at Stanford have even proved that multitasking isn’t effective in today’s college-aged students (who were just about raised with high-speed internet and smart phones). One psychologist reports that multitasking can cause up to a 40% loss in productivity!
So, rule number one: focus on one thing at a time. When you finish this blog post and go back to whatever you should be doing, close out everything except for the window/application/what-have-you that requires your immediate attention.
#2 Blocking Out the Noise
… which brings us to tip number two. Blocking out the noise is a lot easier than you might have thought. “There’s an app for that.” Several dozen apps, in fact. Pick one from this list that works for you. These apps can block your internet connection for a certain period of time or limit you to using just one application at a time – a great way to eliminate distraction. Also, Mac users should check out Single Application Mode, which uses a short snippet of code to block out everything but the one application you’re using.
#3 Make a List and Plow Through It
Who doesn’t like checking things off a list? So simple and so rewarding. One of my favorite productivity apps, Remember the Milk, lets you organize your to-do lists by category (e.g. personal, business, etc.), and includes map functions, integration with Evernote and other apps, and much more. Plus, you get to organize your day and check things off as you go.
#4 Allow Yourself Distractions
Wait! Aren’t we supposed to be improving productivity? Yes. And planned, limited distractions can actually contribute to productivity. One popular method of approaching distraction is the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management system that segments time into 25-minute intervals, followed by a five-minute break. Once every four hours, you take a 15-20 minute break. The Pomodoro Technique is one of many different methods you might find helpful in eliminating distraction. It focuses your concentration, helping you get work done, while also acknowledging your desire – and, really, basic human need – to just space out for a few minutes or look out the window!
What tips do you have for eliminating distraction and getting more work done in a shorter time frame?