Jul 2, 2011

Three Ways We Sabotage Productivity and What To Try

People (we) are as likely to interrupt themselves as be interrupted.

Gallup researchers recently interviewed managers, financial analysts, software developers, engineers, and project leaders and came up with a fascinating discovery: that people interrupt themselves almost as much as they are interrupted by external sources.

They interrupt themselves about 44% of the time.

The rest of the interruptions are from external sources. (phone, e-mail, meetings, colleagues, boss, clients...)


I have listed a few possible reasons why you “interrupt yourself’’ and propose solutions that will make you nearly twice as productive.

These reasons are:




1. It could be you are low on Focus

You have probably heard of cognitive functions known as executive skills that are hardwired in our brains before we reach adulthood and help us execute tasks at work. The combination of the strongest executive skills and the weakest ones will be responsible for your planning, time management, and performance. The same goes for people around you.

Guard your focus

Learning to stay focused by minimizing interruptions on the job is an ongoing process. The most difficult aspect of this is that you are the only one monitoring yourself.

Selfmonitoring can be a very difficult process. It requires a lot of discipline and lot of honesty.

Some days it feels like mission impossible, I know.

Being systematic in your approach can help you focus on tasks and maximize your use of time.

If you find it very difficult to focus check out the article Is it difficult for you to focus at work? 16 Strategies to help you.

2. Procrastination

Warning: sometimes you use interruptions to postpone a project. This is a form of procrastination.

Idea: Get yourself an accountability buddy or a mentor/coach and keep him/her updated on your progress. Then watch your productivity improve. It's a good way to slay the procrastination demons.

Or partner with a colleague who is good at initiating tasks.

3. Multitasking − being bad at several things at the same time

Even though you might be saying, “I’m actually great at handling interruptions and multitasking… it doesn’t really bother me,” chances are you’ll find yourself exhausted at the end of the day from the mental exhaustion of interruption driven environments.

Research has found that the reality is that nobody can multitask. What we actually do is switch from one task to another – doing all of them badly.

This does not matter much if one or more of the tasks is trivial or if accuracy and quality are unimportant but when is this really the case in business?

How do you deal with your focus, multitasking or procrastination? Isn't it so exhausting jumping from one thought to another, one activity to the other and sometimes not accomplishing anything at the end of the day?

For more actionable strategies or tips you or your team can put to work straight away and multiply your productivity while reducing stress, download my free e-book

''Productive Executive/Manager Secrets - Manage Interruptions'' by joining mailing list, if you are not subscribed already.

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