How much real work, the kind that is aligned with your company goals and generates results, do you do each day?
When people who don’t run for exercise want to start running, they start small: with the alternating one-minute run, one-minute walk routine.
That’s a good way to start running when you’re out of shape.
Unfortunately, that’s also the daily work routine for many people. It’s a constant game of ping pong with their email. Email should not dictate the day.
Does this sound familiar? One minute of email followed by one minute of trying to get something done. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
No wonder people have original thoughts in the shower…they have time to think.
According to Cal Newport, author of A World Without Email, the most productive among us only spend about an hour and a half in productive work each day. And that hour and a half is accomplished by adding up numerous smaller sprints throughout the day.
Those 90 minutes are in the high end of the range. For many, daily productivity is much less. We lack protected blocks of time to focus, without distraction or interruption.
It’s not that we’re trying to avoid productive work. We are constantly interrupted by our technology and then interrupting someone in return when we respond to them.
Hey, wasn’t technology supposed to make us more productive? Technology has made us more accessible and responsive, but not more productive.
In fact, email is best used as a pipe to send information quickly and efficiently. However, email should not require immediate attention or processing.
What if you shut off the distractions (email, phone, notifications, your watch reminding you to breathe) for 30 or 45 minutes at a time? What if you did this a few times a day (or at the top of every hour) to focus on your top priorities?
If the first full hour of your work day was spent on your most important priority, how would you feel? What would your impact be on your client or the company? What would your boss think?
Next time you catch yourself in a one-minute work sprint, try this. Slow down, check your goals, and carve out at least 30 minutes to make progress on your most important goal.
There will be less adrenaline and cortisol involved, and the results will be worth it.