How many of you have thought about several things you need to get done today by the time you have finished reading this sentence? Is your brain mucked up with places to go and things to do? You could be hurting your productivity.
Frances Booth, a contributor at Forbes takes a hard look at exactly how we could all become more organized. In fact, she’s even started a series of blog posts dedicated to it. She explains how and why mental clutter affects us in such a negative way. When your brain is clogged, it has a hard time sorting out the easiest of tasks. You may even find yourself sitting in front of your computer, finger on the mouse and totally sure you were just about to do something, but you lost your train of thought. This happens because we are a generation of multitaskers. In fact, many job postings insist on a potential employee being able to multitask. But if multitasking has a negative impact on efficiency at work, why is it so sought after? And why do we all strive to be able to claim that supposed attribute?
We here at The Methodology Blog have taken a hard look into multitasking at work and totally debunk it. So how can you spot the clutter before it becomes enemy number one? Booth provides us with a pretty clear example:
“For example, say you read your emails first thing in the morning, but reply to none of them. Then you turn to a task you have to get done. It’s likely that you won’t be able to focus fully on the task. Cluttered thinking will be getting in the way. You’ll be thinking about those emails that you read, what your response will be, and perhaps even how you’re going to phrase your messages. You might even write and re-write the messages in your mind, again, and again, and again.”
How many of you can say you have done this exact thing? Probably at least once a day! It’s a prime example of how clutter is taking up way too much space inside your head. One suggestion for avoiding this is reading your emails only when you plan on actually taking the time to reply to them. And that goes for all other mind-cluttering tasks. When you’re ready and prepared to tackle a project, you won’t be sitting back and thinking about it the rest of the day, which is not only taxing on your stress level but an unnecessary mental drain that can be prevented.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: what about the times I’ve already gone ahead and opened an email message? It’s like a ticking time bomb in your brain now! What do you do? Booth has a suggestion:
“But if you’re not responding instantly, move the message to another folder and make a note to tackle it at a specified time, so it can be transferred off your running mental To Do list.”
Booth also discusses the familiar social media and technology bombardments that distract the mind on a daily basis. While we’re all for using these tools at work (it has been shown that many companies see productivity growth when using social media). But if you don’t know how to manage your time wisely, these tools can become a time-wasting trap. If you see it affecting your focus, turn it off and put it away!
Looking for more ways to increase your workplace productivity? Reach out to one of our experienced business process improvement consultants for more information!