Turn it off to switch you on

Bonjour. This is Cyril from Work Smarter: Live Better.

In this video I want to share one simple suggestion, one very simple thing, that can make a massive difference to your productivity.

Today I am in New York. You can see all the different buildings of New York around me. Tomorrow I will be working with a group of twenty leaders. I started working with them a few months ago taking them on a journey to challenge and change their work habits. While I am in New York it made me think about something I read in the New York Times about two years ago.

The article explained how a group of people was asked to do a complicated task in a quiet room in a focused environment. Due to being hard, they still made a few errors. In the second test they asked a second group to do the same hard task but in the middle of it they introduced a two to three second interruption. Just two to three second, like receiving a notification on your mobile phone, looking quickly at the notification and putting the mobile phone down without checking it further.

Whenever people were interrupted even for two to three seconds, it doubled the rate of errors in what they were doing…

So here is my suggestion: there are times during the day when you should not be allowed to be interrupted. There are times during the day when you switch off your mobile phone, you put it away from your sight, and you focus 100% on what you are doing.

Why should you put your phone out of sight? Just the fact that you have your mobile phone on your desk is already a distraction for your brain. So when you decide to work on an important task, switch off your mobile phone and hide it. For half an hour you do not allow those quick interruptions from SMS, WhatsApp, Slack or emails. Or in fact any notifications. You do the same thing with your computer. You must also do the same with the computer and turn off any notifications.

One critical mindshift I share with my clients is that performance is not about quantity i.e the number of hours you’re working. Performance is much more about the quality of what you are doing. Therefore being able to manage these little interruptions is very, very important for the quality of your work, hence your performance.

This is this week’s Work Smarter: Live Better tip. Hope you enjoyed it.

I’m now off for a walk in New York.
See you soon.


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