In-Between the Pages: Time Sucks

There’s a Place Free of the Time Suck (Image: Shawn Ward)

There are times where I am just amazed how I wasted about two hours of productivity time with nothing to show for it. I get into this black hole of time and space completely distracted from my original purpose I had intended, only to find not only no time left but guilt ridden disbelief that it happened so easy. All I was doing was checking my email. Then I got a notification and somehow ended up in a social media fire storm I couldn’t stop reading about. From there, I got caught up on an advertisement for a new wicked cool looking bag that I wanted to research a little more into. And so on, and so on, and so forth.

It happens. I needed some help. Some ideas I have found that can curb your addiction to being brought into a time suck vortex are pretty simple and if you want to truly get more time back, these will help.

Notifications are sweets for your mind. They are incredibly hard to ignore as they pop up on our personal technology. It’s like getting a phone call during nap time waking you from a full sleep. Your mind gets rope a doped into checking the notification out. Your brain starts releasing dopamine getting you all excited to find out more. The higher the frequency of notifications you have, the more distracted you will get. The solution, turn on “Do Not Disturb” while you are working on your projects or personal work. They will be there when you’re done. I find this is the best Zen moment you can get is just to turn them all off. The only alarm or notification I want you to set is about 45 minute alarm either on your watch, laptop, tablet, or phone for the simple reason we are going to talk about next, breaks.

Overusing your planned time to work. Not taking a small stand break every 45–60 minutes can take it’s toll on your mind’s ability to focus on the task at hand. Doing your work through fatigue and tiredness to try to get as much done as possible feels more productive, but it’s not. Believe it or not your mind will actually create the illusion for you that you’re more productive because you don’t stop working. The opposite couldn’t be more true, you will find yourself up to 25% more productive by getting some breaks in there to just reboot. Sounds kind of counterintuitive to the whole title of this post about time sucks, but it’s true and it works. You will get more done. Breaks do several things like allow you to look at your work from a higher perspective by taking a step back to examine it, breaks slow your brain down at the right moments to get the most out of your thinking power, breaks can give you better ideas because you get the time to reflect on the work completed thus far, and finally breaks are a preventative measure to make sure you don’t work past fatigue or exhaustion where you by that time could be to late to salvage it

The environment you choose to do the work or passion makes a big difference in keeping your from the time suck vortex. Do your passion work where you have just you and your passion to work on with no distractions like the general population around to sidetrack you. Forget trying to do it in the same room as family, you will get pulled because when you are visible you are fair game to be engaged and you will feel guilty just ignoring your family so don’t put yourself in that predicament. Libraries are great for research places to dig in to work, but terrible to be creative in because there is to much going on around you as people come in/out. Find the right place where you can strike a balance of focus and be inspired to think freely.

Lastly, establish some rules for yourself as you kick off your focus time. A book, Getting Results the Agile Way talks about the “Rule of 3” as a great time management technique. The rule is super simple in context. First, write down three things you want to accomplish today. I am talking about the big rocks you want to move. Second, write the three things you want to accomplish this week. Again, the biggest rocks you can think of you want to get done for the week. Third, write three things you want to achieve this year. Yes, again, think big ROCKS. That’s it. The problem with many of the productivity and time management systems is they require a lot of overhead and the “Rule of 3” doesn’t. Everyday you start with the three and then you do them. It’s an incredible way to not only figure out what you need to focus on, but clears all the other white noise out of your way by having you focus on the 3.

To keep yourself out of the time suck that can get the best of anyone keep yourself in the zone by kicking off all your notifications, take a break every 45–60 minutes, choose a great place dig in to your work that is exclusive towards your work, and lastly make sure you keep it simple as well as focused by working through the “Rule of 3.”

Have a great week and I would love to hear your best practices or if any of these helped you.


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