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Time suckers: eliminate and rejuvenate

Mary Thomas, Associate Editor, ATB, Jan 2019, Edmonton

Time is our most precious commodity. Our lives have become a minefield of distraction. Between email, slack, text messages, social notifications, mobile alerts, and loud folks, we’re constantly bombarded with potential time wasters.A UC Irvine study revealed that office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes. And it takes around 25 minutes to get back on track.Eliminating distractions increase your productivity, output, and mental wellbeing.
1. Digital devices
While the average person spends about three hours a day on their phone, the top 25% of users spend 4.5 hours or more.Delete all distracting apps, turn off all notifications and go into do-not-disturb mode during working hours. Your notifications will still be waiting for you once the day is done.
2. Multitasking
Studies have consistently found that most people have lower performance when trying to do multiple tasks at once (unless you’re part of the 2.5 percent of people who can multitask effectively.) Focus on what needs to get done and check it off.
3. Noisy offices
Researchers have found that to concentrate on cognitively demanding work, our environment should be no louder than 50 decibels. Most open offices are closer to the 60-65 decibel range.
Cubicles do help eliminate noise. If you can’t physically separate yourself from noisy coworkers, you’re better by using headphones and listening to soothingmusic.
4. Workplace clutter
Neuroscientists at Princeton University discovered that physical clutter adds to stress and decreases your performance.Set aweeklyor bi-monthly reminderto sort and discard your physical and digital clutter (like all those browser tabs you have open). Become a “digital minimalist” by clearing out and deleting any tool you aren’t using or doesn’t bring you value.
5. Nutrition
A fall in energy during the day can make it difficult to get things done. How you fuel your body will depend on what works for you. Keep a water bottle at your desk and fill it every few hours and try to avoid foods with high concentrations of sugar, which give you an initial boost of energy followed by a full-on crash.
6. Procrastination
Procrastination leads to more stress. It’s often better to force yourself to start (as creativity and focus often come after the fact).Small wins can be just as motivational as big ones, you may use a productivity tracking tool to monitor progress at the end of each day.
8. Meetings
If you feel that much of your day is wasted on unnecessary meetings, bring it up. Ask to do a calendar audit and see which meetings are relevant and eliminate the rest.
9. Decision fatigue
Our decision-making abilities naturally deteriorate through the day. The average worker switches between tasks more than 300 times per day. Once our decision-making stores are spent, we can’t properly gauge what is important and end up wasting time. Reduce the number of decisions you make each day, the more energy you’ll have to prioritize your time in the right way.
10. Email overload
Instead of reading and responding to every message as it comes in, set aside a time each day to handle non-emergent correspondence.
As humans, distractions are natural. But it’s when we recognize them, it is in our capacity to eliminate them and raise the productivity bar. Send in your comments to us at [email protected]

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