Archive for the ‘productivity’ Category

Techie Tip of the Week — focus on tasks for 40 minutes without distraction

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Are you constantly interrupted at work by email, IM, and your co-workers? This week’s Techie Tip comes from Pierre Khawand, author of “The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook”, who explains how to get better results by focusing on the task at hand for at least forty minutes without distraction.

>>Pierre Khawand: My name is Pierre Khawand, author of “The Accomplishing More with Less Workbook”, and today I’d like to talk to you about 40 minute focus for breakthrough results. I’d like to show you how our results change with time when we are working on a task. If this is the results axis and this is the time axis, when I start to work on a task I start to get some results and if I continue to work I get more results and more results but at some point this is going to level off and then diminish. Now this can happen for a number of reasons, maybe I did what I could and now I need someone else to do their part or maybe I get tired and now I’m not productive anymore or maybe I’m done with the task. Now this is all good in theory. Does this really happen in reality? What happens after a few minutes? After a few minutes I get interrupted and this can be email, the email beep and I can’t resist that temptation or maybe someone stops by. Now my results go down to zero and then when I start again and start to make some progress, I get interrupted again. And this time there may be instant messaging or maybe my boss calling and then my results go to zero again. And this happens again and again. What am I describing here? This is our life. Now let’s stop and talk about the implications of working this way. So first of all if we take a look at these results that I’m getting right here, this is only a small fraction, maybe 5% to 10% of the total results that I could be getting if I were to stay focused, not only this but when I’m working a few minutes here and a few minutes there I’m basically staying at the superficial level and not getting deep into anything. So the point is we need to stay focused long enough until we reach this area right here which we call the accomplishment zone. This is where in-depth thinking takes place. This is where creative problem solving takes place. This is where we get meaningful accomplishments. Now the question is how long is long enough? Well this depends on the task. For some tasks this may be 15 minutes, others may be 30 minutes or maybe several hours. I’d like to suggest 40 minutes as a default guideline and then after the 40 minutes I’d like to stop and recommend that we switch and become collaborative. This means handling email, talking to people, handling phone calls, whatever it takes and then stop again and now take a break and get re-energized and ready for the next focus session. Great accomplishments don’t come from working a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Great accomplishments come from focused and purposeful effort. background music So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started. It only takes 40 minutes. music noise

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