Time is one of the most valuable commodities in our lives. It's also the thing that is equal for everyone. Even a billionaire only gets 24 hours in a day. It's critical to limit the amount of wasted time to make room for what's most important.
Even when you commit to limiting your wasted time, it's likely that curiosity becomes your downfall: Do I have a text message? I wonder if I have any new email. How many visitors have been to my website in the last hour? The list goes on. Unfortunately, frequently indulging your curiosity can have adverse effects.
Consider the following:
- How much time is it really? A mere 10 minutes of time each day, 5 days a week, is equivalent to a 40-hour workweek each year. An entire week. Can't get your reports done on time? Now you know part of the reason why. Lost time adds up.
2. Loss of momentum. Pulling away from your regular work to check your email costs you more time than just what you use to pull up your email account and read. You still have to get back on track when you're finished with the email.
- You may lose your train of thought, lose your place in the memo you were reading, or misplace something. Even worse, you may forget what you were doing in the first place. You know what happens next. You respond to that email or text and then you have to keep checking back to see what their response is. It never ends.
- Overwhelming. With all this checking and responding, it can be difficult to keep up. You might find yourself falling behind on your tasks and feeling overwhelmed. This is especially true if you've got a lot going on in your life. Instead of solving the problem, you just end up adding to it.
- Unnecessary stress. When you're constantly checking your phone or email, you're introducing a level of stress into your life that's completely unnecessary. It can also create an unhealthy and unproductive environment, leading to more problems down the road.
What's the answer?
1. Remember that it can wait. Most people can get away with checking their personal email once a day. Texting is the same way, believe it or not. These types of distractions are seldom critical; if someone's message does happen to be critical, they'll find a way to get through to you.
2. Schedule it. Set aside a specific time to check on all of those little distractions. Perhaps you might choose to only deal with email at the end of the workday or only text for 10 minutes before bed.
- Whatever you're perpetually curious about, set aside some time each day to address it. To maximize your efficiency, all you have to do is stick to the schedule.
3. Inform people. If everyone knows that you only look at email between 4:45pm and 5:00pm, they'll call you if they need to communicate something really important. If it's not really important, they might not send the email at all. This might even mean less work for you.
- Additionally, you'll find that people won't bother you with text messages during the day if they know you're not going to answer them anytime soon. With less stuff to distract you, you'll be able to better focus on your work.
We all have little things we do to waste time. Some of those are curiosity-based and often the most challenging to ignore. Acknowledge the amount of time it costs you each year - time that you can never get back - time that could be more effectively utilized.
Most things can wait. Consider how often you really need to check these distractions and make a schedule for them. By informing the appropriate people of your plan, you can be sure they'll adapt and nothing critical will be missed.
Take back control of your time. You'll be glad you did!