Guest blog by Dennis Bridges, MBA

In a world where information is in abundant supply and we spend more time with our technology then with our loved ones.  It is surprisingly difficult to take control of our time and maintain focus. 

We are constantly being bombarded by bing’s, ping’s and all manner of “subtle” alerts from the countless number of devices that surround our personal space.  It seems to me that our smart phones, tablets and computers tell us what to do more often than our significant others, however our selective hearing has yet to adapt.  I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I am against the use of technology, in fact I’m all for it. I’m one of those people that no longer uses paper, my life is almost entirely digital.  However, I would argue at times that we, as human beings, need to consider whether we are using our technology or our technology is using us.  Allow me to make a couple of simple suggestions that will help you ensure that, in your case, the former is true.

Before I do that, if you think I’m completely out to lunch I propose that you conduct the following experiment. For one day this week carry with you a pen and paper and every time you hear an alert from your smart phone or tablet draw a dot on that piece of paper, every-time you hear an alert and check your smart phone or tablet, draw a dot and then circle it.  By the end of the day you will be able to count the number of times your “personal assistants” have merely shifted your attention and how many times they have actually disrupted your focus.  Now consider that the average person can take up to 15 minutes to refocus on a simple task.  That is a lot of wasted time! So, how can you minimize the amount of time in your day that is lost to distracting your focus?

1) Acknowledge the fact that switching your focus is making you less efficient. Just being aware of the cost of switching your focus will decrease the amount of times you do it in a day. Regardless of whether you do it by googling quasars or checking your friends personal Facebook updates.

2) Allocate one or two specific times per day to check your email and respond to any email you have an answer for immediately. Putting off the simple emails for another time, will just cost you more time, get them out of the way!

3) Turn off all the push notifications on your messaging devices(text/email/Facebook/Voxer etc.), that way you can check them when your focus has already been broken rather than constantly being distracted.

Most importantly, incorporate defined focus times, boundaries and finish lines into your life.  People, like information in the digital world, have become more accessible. It’s as if we are all multitasking our way to zero productivity. When you are focusing, be completely focused for a defined period and then stop. When you stop, truly refresh your mind and recharge yourself. Work hard and then rest like you mean it!

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