Do You Need Productivity Blinders?

The other day I walked into a co-worker’s office.  She was also on the phone and appeared to be typing an email.  There were several stacks of paper spread across her desk.  She waved to me that it would be just a second.

Hanging up the phone, she said, “What’s up?  I just finished a conference call and I am trying to respond to this message.”

Politely gesturing to the papers all over her keyboard, I asked, “What is all that?”

“Oh… I have to get this expense report done.  I have been working on it for 3 days.”

Just then, the phone rang.  “Just a second,” and she answered it.

I said, “I’ll catch you later,” and excused myself.

Does this sound familiar?  Lots of stuff in progress, but nothing getting done?

In a busy world, where we are constantly bombarded with new things to do and interruptions, how can we focus on one thing to get done?

Maybe we would be more productive if we had “blinders” to help us only see one thing at a time.

Where Are Your Productivity Blinders?

Do you get more done when you work on one thing?  Or when you work on many things at once?

Many people swear that they can multitask.  However, it has been demonstrated time and again that your mind works more efficiently and effectively when it is able to concentrate on a single task.

Here is another small revelation…

“You can’t do everything.  Not at once anyway.”

Multitasking leads to “multiplying” the time required to finishing a series of tasks.

What you need are some productivity blinders to:

  • Prevent Interruptions
  • Keep You on Task
  • Keep You From Doing 57 Things at Once
  • Allow You to Focus

Put Your Blinders On…

Sometimes it is necessary to shut out other tasks and priorities in order to get the task at hand completed.

Here are just a few tips to help you focus and “Put Your Productivity Blinders On…”

  1. Go to a Quiet Environment – Find a peaceful place to work.  If your cubicle/office is not, then find some place that is.
  2. Turn Things Off! – Turn off the interruptions.  The email dings, the Facebook alerts, and yes, the phone.
  3. Only Have Needed Materials – Clear your desk or work area of everything except the materials related to the task at hand.  Having other stuff laying about only leads to distraction.
  4. Cut the Connection – Really.  Turn off the Internet.  This sounds extreme.  But you will be amazed how much more work you can get done without the temptation to “look up just one thing.”
  5. Shut the Door – If you are in an office, don’t be afraid to shut the door when you are actually working.  One of the biggest workplace productivity killers is the myth of the “open door” policy.  (Upcoming post about this…)
  6. Set Expectations – If you are working on a high priority project, set expectations with your team or co-workers.  Letting them know that you need some priority time will let them keep lower priority items until you are available again.

One Thing at a Time

Today, when you need to get something important done, try putting on your “blinders.”

You may find that you are better able to concentrate and get tasks completed.

After all, many things at once leads to many things started.  One thing at a time gets things done.

Do you need productivity blinders?  How do you shut out distractions and interruptions?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • As a horse owner, blinders also have an added effect. Blinders can also make horses step higher and concentrate more on their job at hand, moving forward. We need to move forward in whatever we do so “blinders” are necessary.

    • TMNinja

      @NancyRathbone Thanks for sharing, Nancy. Love the expanded analogy!

  • KirraAntrobus

    Any tips for those of us who are unable to stay on one task or two avoid interruptions? I do accounts payable and accounts receivable, but I’m also in the front office and expected to take care of customers as they come in the door or call. Also I am regularly interrupted by my boss and coworkers with things that are more (sometimes less!) urgent than what I am working on myself. It’s very seldom that I am able to start a job and finish it without being interrupted. Usually I have to commit a day or two to work on a job in order to finish it at those moments when I’m not being pulled away to do something else. It’s far from the ideal, I know, but there’s very little I can do to change it. I just need to learn how to cope with it better.

    • tc_geeks

      @KirraAntrobus Kirra, I have experienced the same thing and here is what I finally had to do. Instead of trying to do the whole job at once and then move on to the next task (because that rarely happens), I broke each job up into smaller chunks. So, for example, you could work on one “project” for 15 minutes then move on to another one and circle back around…this is a method used by people that are extremely bogged down with tasks. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it works.

  • I really need some productivity blinders. It’d be great for avoiding the Internet when working on my book. I can reach my minimum goal for the day, but I’ve sort-of-secretly upped my goal recently and just can’t seem to get into my head that yes, I do need to write more every day to reach that goal. So what do I do instead? I piddle around on the Internet instead of writing those extra words. I may have to start cutting that cord, even though the Internet can be a great motivator (believe it or not!).

    • TMNinja

      @sushi I actually like having the Internet open. Sometimes I take quick creativity breaks.

      But, it can be very tempting to “just keep surfing” and it amazing how quickly the time goes. 🙂

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  • Yep, turning off the internet is my fave productivity blinder. No email, twitter or even IM. Also I like using the Pomodoro technique – use a timer to focus on 1 single thing for 15 or 25 minute blocks with 5 minute breaks in between.

    • Khaled

      That was really helpful when u mentioned about the pomodoro technique. Thanx a lot

  • DDdW

    leechblock extention for firefox!

  • PJProductivity

    Word, my friend. Multitasking is oxymoronic. Ain’t no such beast, really. When you try to do more than one thing at a time, you’re basically doing neither.