In that stage of life when someone is said to be “editing,” they are pretty much done finding things they are good at and are paring everything down to the things that have the most passion and feel like what you’re supposed to be doing.
For me, that’s been a huge pile to whittle down since my 20s found me enjoying dozens of things and being good at quite a few of them: microbiology research lab, IT, construction material testing, teaching, writing, analysis, desktop publishing, and a gob of geeky things on or with computers.
Now that I’m in my mid-30s and have found my profession and place in the marketplace, I’ve been in desperate need to streamline my processes. No longer the jack of all trades, I’ve got just a couple of streams of income, so efficiency has become paramount. I’ve been getting one Audible audiobook after another on how the brain works, killing procrastination, and how to continue on the Road of Awesome.
The common thread
Each of the resources I’ve found have differed on several points, albeit minor points. What is interesting is that each of them has a common thread running through them:
cut out distractions – the mind is incapable of multi-tasking anything that takes conscious effort
Studies show that adding a distraction as simple as having IM open while reading a passage takes people 25% longer to read (not including the time spent on IM) than someone with no distractions. Factor in the time on IM and who knows how long it takes.
Microsoft studied 27 employees over several weeks and found that a simple distraction pushed them into a string of routine tasks (such as clicking each browser tab, going to a new site, checking their cell phone, etc.) and not only losing the productive time on the distraction but taking anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to return to the workflow they left when distracted.
I have found myself to be no different.
Other peoples’ priorities
Also notable in every source I’ve found on the subject of productivity is to avoid checking e-mail or voicemail before completing the most important task(s) of the day. I’ve tried that in the past, but caved when I got to my desk, since I work from home. I’d make it all the way until then, but then other peoples’ priorities hijacked my plans for the rest of my morning.
How often do you really need to know what is in your inbox before you write a blog post, work on a proposal, write or clean code, or work on long-term projects? For me, I realized I never needed to know what was in my inbox and yesterday was completely hijacked reading more about WP Daily shutting down (it’s back up again) and responding to non-urgent e-mails, and generally wasted my day until my lunchtime dentist appointment.
Time lost: 4 hours.
I’ll be checking my e-mail today after I publish this, hit MailChimp to ensure it will go out at 9am ET, and spend a little time reading some industry info on development cycles to never stop learning.
Does any of this resound with you – are you doing something similar or is this what you’ve been looking for to get unstuck not getting stuff done until late at night when everyone else’s wants have been met? Let’s discuss.