We have become a generation of human Pavlovian dogs responding to pings, tings, rings and dings. One of our biggest complaints is ‘there’s not enough time and it’s no wonder with:
- 6.3 hours of the working day is spent on email
- 33% of people check email in the middle of the night
- People check their smart phone 47 times a day and will tap, swipe or click their phone an average of 2,617 times per day
- Adults spend an average of 4 hours and 33 mins per day on smart phone/tablet
- 69% of people check their smart phone within 5 minutes of waking up
There’s a mounting of tips on how manage the pings, tings, rings and dings distractions, including:
- Stop aiming for zero unread messages in your inbox – sure, it may give you short-term satisfaction, but it says nothing about your productivity. Accept that you may not read every single email.
- Turn off the ‘new email’ alert
- Put your phone in a draw, in another room or on aeroplane mode
- Manage people interruptions by asking them to come back later when you aren’t working on a high priority item
- Etc, etc, etc…
But my favourite is…knowing that distraction starts from within.
The tips above remove the external trigger. However, when you respond to an external distraction (e.g. email, phone, etc.) it’s because of an internal trigger. You respond to external distractions because you are bored, stressed, tired, uncertain or some other uncomfortable emotion.
These are the real triggers that are distracting you, not the external ping, ting, ring or ding. You check your email or respond to the phone because what you are working on is boring, it’s a task you don’t like, you are tired, stressed or uncertain.
In order to stop responding to these distractions, you need to master your internal triggers-the uncomfortable emotional states. Get comfortable with feeling these emotions and strive to do what you say you are going to do.
- Plan your day and schedule your activities. Known as time boxing, it is allotting a fixed, maximum unit of time for an activity in advance, and then completing the activity within that time. Don’t leave it to chance that it will get done just because it’s on a to-do list. Instead, schedule a fixed time period for each activity and then strive to do what you said you would do.
- If you get distracted, ask yourself why. Label the emotion (boredom, stress, uncertainty) you are feeling and accept it and don’t try to change it. Be curious with why you are feeling it rather than trying to resist it. If you allow the emotion it will pass, if you reject it, it will keep showing up.
- And finally, of course setting your environment up to minimise distractions helps.
What tips do you use to manage pings, tings, rings and dings?