Ben Franklin observed, “You may delay, but time will not.” So, when you’re inundated with messages and flooded with information, how do you keep from spinning your wheels or getting driven to distraction? VivaKi’s Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Rishad Tobaccowala gives five tips to help keep your eyes on the road and reach your destination – right on schedule.
Doing more stuff is not the same as achievement. Activity is not productivity.
A case in point: Research company Basex recently estimated that information overload and resulting distraction led to $1 trillion in lost productivity in 2010. “Keeping busy” is not the same as “accomplishing goals.” There is always something to do, but what is vital? Cut down on distractions. Prioritize your attention to the activities that will be most helpful–you’ll find that this makes life not only more productive, but less exhausting as well. Why? Well, everything is a bit easier to accomplish when you can achieve the second item on Rishad’s list….
The key to doing less is to focus.
Of course, simply deciding to become less active is not the solution. You need to cast aside distraction and foreground activities that provide the greatest returns. But how?
One study suggests that part of our information overload comes from how we choose to consume it. Working on a desktop with three programs open, while flipping between 6 tabs on your Internet browser, dilutes your attention and exhausts your mind. An article at the Nieman Journalism Lab cites a study that indicates “the more contained, or even constrained, a platform feels, the more it can contribute to people feeling less overwhelmed . . . A news app or mobile site, for instance, is an isolated experience that emphasizes reading with minimal links or other distractions.”
Many companies are attempting to apply policies of “digital ergonomics” to help their team members more comfortably communicate. These policies include a “no email after work rule” or in the case of tech company Atos, a “Zero Email” policy.
But you don’t need to wait for your company to give you signposts to find your way through the wilderness. Rishad suggests you select your areas of focus using the following 2 guidelines:
a) Comparative Advantage: You should spend your time doing things that you can do better than most people.
b) Positive Outcome: When you can choose, you should only do things that give you a positive outcome.
Once you have those aspects in place, it’s time to maximize your efforts, which takes us to step 3.
You can scale yourself and your impact and therefore save time. Two ways to do this are to use “leverage” and “momentum.”
a) Leverage: Today technology and scheduling allow people to leverage. You can use social media, along with good writing and speaking skills, to reach many people to whom you need to communicate and sell your thinking.
b) Momentum: The trend is your friend.
It’s an idiom popular on the trading floor, and it’s one you should keep in mind when it comes to your own time management. Every effort you make should have a solid return. When you pay attention to something, you’re making an investment–so make it one that counts. Don’t sit around watching the train pass you by, act!