Welcome to 21st century living.
Stay with me for a moment and let me know if some of these things happen to you at work:
You start a task (ie, you start working).
Ten minutes later, an e-mail notification pops up. You check and reply to this.
You shake off the distraction after about four or five minutes and start again.
Your phone rings. It’s your friend. When are you guys catching up this weekend?
Wow. That felt good. Let’s go back to work.
Ten minutes pass. A colleague walks by. How was the weekend? Great! We tried this new place…
Good chat. Now where were we? Oh yeah. Let’s continue…
Another e-mail pops up. No worries. You only need five minutes to answer it anyway.
Back to work…where was I? Here we go…
What? Lunch already? Cool. Let’s go!
…back from lunch and coffee. Wow. Where did the time go?
I hope this doesn’t happen to you on a daily basis. It does to me and frankly, it’s driving me crazy.
The way that all of these distractions have begun to mess up my thoughts has made me start to collectively call them mental noise.
I mean, take a look at those first 200 words. By the time I finished writing them I was already interrupted twice and what normally would take me ten minutes of focused writing to do has now taken half an hour.
Ouch. Three times slower to do one task. Imagine what happens if this happens all day (and it does). It will take me a full nine hours to complete a three hour task thanks to distractions. This is just a rough estimate. I don’t have the data to back this up yet (more on this later). But you can see how bad it’s going to be if you extend this inefficiency into days, weeks and months.
So starting today I’m going to try and develop a new routine which I hope can also help you.