Did you know that "multi-tasking" is scientifically impossible? Yeah, it scared us too. At every waking minute, something is nagging for my attention and most of the time it is on my cell phone. Even when my brain is fully focused on work, a project or my dinner or coffee date companion, the phone cries for attention with the ominous buzzing noise. After lost days of flipping between computer screens, instantly replying to texts, looking at that funny snap, I've established some rules for myself which have completely elevated my productivity level.
Timer. The timer on my phone is one of my favorite tools- I routinely set it for 30 minutes. I tell myself, put in 30 uninterrupted minutes on this project and then you can take a break. It's ridiculous, but it works wonders. Take a break and if you need another 30 you can start again. Very rarely someone needs you impulsively during 30 minutes. When I worry about this, I think about the 80's. It was impossible to reach someone at will and we were all fine.
Side List. Old habits die hard. Sometimes in the middle of the timer running, a topic or to-do comes strolling through my brain that is unrelated to my current work. I want to hop out of the project and go do said task "because it is so easy to just get done." But, it also takes you off task. It takes on average 23 minutes to get back on task after you've been interrupted. <cue freakout here> To alleviate interruptions, I keep a short list to the right of my computer where I quickly jot down one or two words to remind me of that item and get right back to the project.
DND Mode. Iphone features a do-not-disturb feature that you can turn on and off for at will and/or at a set time. I have my phone automatically go to "DND" mode at 9:00 every night. Alerts still come through but your phone doesn't buzz, light up or ring. Figure out how to set this up here.
Conscious Uncoupling. The most productive way to keep your brain between the lines? Hit DND mode and put your phone in your purse, bag or out of sight. You won't miss anything in 30 minutes and with one task at hand, your brain will be ready for all that heavy lifting.
What about you? Any hacks you are particularly fond of to get your brain focused on the right stuff? Please share!