Say to an entrepreneur, “You should turn oﬀ your phone” and they think you have escaped from an insane asylum. For some reason, entrepreneurs embrace the consistent shunning of their own personal well-being and lives. Unfortunately, while this may feel like initiation dues into the club, it ends up making you less efficient and effective.
Here are some things that can help:
- Do the Hardest Task First Thing in Morning. Do the most important or difficult task of the day first thing in the morning, when you are most rested and least distracted. Unfortunately, 90 percent of people check their email as soon as they get to work. That turns his or her agenda over to someone else. They do it because it’s easy, and feel more effective in a shorter time by answering emails. Focus first on the hardest task of the day. This will allow you to apply your best to the most important jobs. Resist the temptation to do mindless or easy things to gain a brief sense of accomplishment.
- Silence Your Technology. When you are working on something, turn oﬀ your email and put your devices across the room with the sound oﬀ. Shifting your attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email while also reading a report and answering text messages, disrupts our concentration and saps our focus. Each time we return to our initial task, we use up valuable cognitive resources reorienting ourselves. Research shows that when we are deeply engrossed in an activity, even minor distractions can have a profound effect. The trouble, of course, is that multitasking is enjoyable. It’s fun to indulge your curiosity. Who knows what that next email, tweet or text message holds in store? Finding out provides immediate gratification. In contrast, resisting distraction and staying on-task requires discipline and mental eﬀort. It’s up to you to protect your cognitive resources. The more you do to minimize task-switching over the day, the more mental bandwidth you’ll have for activities that matter.