During a recent treadmill workout, I found myself grabbing my Kindle, iPod, iPhone and T.V. remote to prepare for my run. Armed with all my favorite technologies, I approached the treadmill and wondered if all these distractions were really going to help me run better or faster?
This experience got me thinking. As public relations professionals, we invite distractions into our lives each and every day. Honestly, it’s our job. We call it multi-tasking. We’ll be pitching an editor, while reading their latest story, while writing a strategic plan, and tweeting about it all, of course. While it might seem like we are being productive, that’s not the case.
Research shows if we want to be more productive, we may want to reduce our multitasking. According to an article written by Dr. Paul, Atchley, associate professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Kansas, it takes an average of 15 minutes to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email. Efficiency can drop by as much 40 percent.
There are a variety of ways to increase productivity, but you need to find what works best for you. Here are a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful:
- Block time on your calendar to work. Seems like a no brainer, but calendars fill up quickly with meetings, so try blocking some time to actually get work done.
- Step away from your desk. If you have the opportunity to work away from your desk, try it. Find a quiet space that inspires you and is comfortable.
- Prioritize your to do list. We all know how overwhelming these lists can get. Take a few moments every morning to prioritize the top three or five tasks and start there.
- Music. There is one distraction that I consider no distraction at all and that is music. It may not be for everyone, but I have found that I get some of my best work done while listening to some tunes.
What are some other ways you can increase productivity? How you do break away from distractions?