Do you work from home and find yourself feeling that you “should” be sorting the laundry rather than dealing with emails? Perhaps in work you face so many distractions its hard to get on with your own “to-do” list? Linda Sone a technology expert says that for many of us we work in an environment of “continuous partial attention”.
Amazingly research is suggesting that once we are interrupted in our task it takes 25 minutes to get back into focusing on what we were doing! So, if our attention is constantly being hijacked by the ping of a new email, or the ring of a phone then its astounding that anyone is actually achieving anything (following the 25 minute rule).
If answering telephone calls and responding to emails is part of your work and cannot be delegated to someone else how can we ensure that we are also dealing with those parts of our work that might be things like writing reports, preparing contracts, or managing clients? Julie Morgenstern (time management expert) suggests we try not to let “attention vultures” interrupt our focus so frequently by grouping similar tasks together. For instance, make all your calls in one go to prevent the time spent on task-switching, which maintains your focus on the tasks in hand. She also suggests that to start your work day more focused- instead of checking your emails when you first arrive in work, start on a project and look at emails in an hours time. Another tip is to be like an astronaut and split your day in small time segments of particular activity and set the timer. So that every 40 minutes you work on one aspect of your job exclusively.
Our minds are like a computer-they slow down if too many windows are open. Multi-tasking, once thought to be the most efficient way to work is increasingly being shown to be inefficient and feels unsatisfactory. If you’re feeling pulled in different directions just for a couple of minutes, move your attention to the sensations of the chair beneath you, and the sensations of the breath in the body. This will bring back into your body and out of your head, and give a little space to re-focus on what it is you now wish to do.