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Thanks to all the communication possibilities that mobile devices offer us, we are now more connected than ever. This is great if you are into receiving real-time updates for every little thing that your friends do, but these updates can be distracting. To stay productive, try scheduling your communications.
This is not a radical idea, but it can make your workday radically more productive. When it comes to time management, the key to getting more done is to cut out distractions. If your office had a window overlooking something interesting such as a boardwalk on a beach, you would naturally install blinds in order to stay focused (due to the distracting beauty of the ocean). In the same way, checking your electronic screens less is a great way to stay productive.
E-mail is a great example of how distracting digital communication can be. If you keep your e-mail inbox open throughout the workday, then you are going to pounce on every new message, especially if there is even the slightest chance that the new e-mail will be more exciting than whatever dull project you are working on. Checking a new e-mail might provide you with a pleasant distraction from a boring task, but checking every new e-mail has the potential to delay the project considerably.
One solution is to schedule specific times throughout your day to check your e-mail, like at 9am and 4pm. This will take every little distraction and condense it to a manageable block of time. At first, making a change like this to your e-mail routine will be difficult. Studies have shown that receiving a notification of a new digital message can trigger the reward part of your brain; therefore, it will take a bit of discipline to stick with your commitment.
You will also need to notify everyone at work about your new communications routine, and make sure that your manager is on board. This way, everybody will know what to expect when trying to contact you. One tool that you can take advantage of to help make this commitment stick is an e-mail autoresponder. Using an autoresponder will make it so that every new email automatically gets a response that communicates your e-mail routine. You can say something like, “In an effort to increase productivity, I will only be checking my e-mail at 9am and 4pm. If you need to contact me earlier, then you can reach me on my cell.”
This same scheduled approach can also be used with other digital communications like social media and texting. As enjoyable as it may be to instantly be notified of every update, the reality is that the vast majority of these updates are unimportant and can be a waste of your time. Even if the update is important, it can very likely go a few hours before being read.
Try out scheduled communication for yourself, and let us know in the comments if you notice a difference in getting more work accomplished.