“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.” – Marge Kennedy
The reason that distractions cause so much, well, distraction, is because they interrupt. That may sound pretty obvious, but think about all the distractions you have in your life. Some of these things you may not consider distractions – I encourage you to take a closer look:
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Etc)
- Friends, Family, Co-Workers (popping in and talking to you, perhaps?)
- Instant Messaging
The list goes on and on. The even more startling thing is that each time you get distracted, on average, it takes 30-45 minutes to completely refocus on whatever it is you were doing (assuming you were focused on it before). With the number of distractions that pop up in a day, it’s no wonder nobody gets anything done! One way to help solve (or at least alleviate) this problem is through batching, and really it’s quite simple.
- You have to assume that these distractions will indeed happen. You can’t avoid them, most likely.
- Set aside time for these distractions. For example, I set aside one 15 minute period for email in the morning (11:00am-11:15am) and one 15 minute email period in the late afternoon (4:00pm-4:15pm). Besides this, I’m not supposed to check email. By only allowing two small periods a day to check email, I focus on email, get the important things done, and then leave it out of my mind the rest of the day. Specific times for things allows you to not worry so much about them. Of course, you’ll want to set aside times for other things as well.
- Do this with your work, too – the idea is the same with the 30-30 schedule. You’re batching work and play – this takes it a little bit further.
The idea is simple, but the outcome is tremendous. Get things out of your head by specifying their times and batching them. You’ll find yourself getting the same amount done (in terms of emails replied to, Facebook statuses liked, etc), but you’ll spend way less time doing it.