If you are reading this article instead of focusing on what you ought to be doing, keep reading. Distractions may decrease your productivity in the short run, but, obviously, you need this information.
There is a pervasive myth, especially prevalent in mother circles, that multitasking makes you more productive. In reality, switching back and forth between tasks does exactly the opposite. Not only does it hurt your productivity level but, according to a British study, it also drops your I.Q. by about 5 points for women and 15 points for men.
Those scores do highlight the truth of the long held belief women are better at juggling several tasks simultaneously than men, but ladies, is that something we should be proud of?
When asked for her greatest productivity tip, Krissi Barr of Barr Corporate Success said she schedules a concentrated block of time on her calendar every week to focus on her most important tasks.
If you think about it this makes sense.
When you begin a project requiring creativity or mental focus there is a certain time frame needed to think through the whys and hows of what needs to be done. Every time you stop working on that task, time will be required to get your head back in the game when you start up again.
I’d been slogging through the revision of a fiction manuscript for quite a long time. I’d been working on it a few hours a day, fitting it in around my other projects. Part of the reason it was taking me so long is I had to read several chapters each time I began working just to remind myself of where I was in the story.
Recently, I had the opportunity to create my own personal writer’s retreat.
My family was gone for the weekend, and I had no pressing social engagements. I worked steadily on my work in progress for about 20 hours from Friday to Sunday afternoon. I only took breaks for exercise, eating, and sleeping.
Having a large block of concentrated time to focus on a single project is a game changer.
Not only did I make great progress on the manuscript, but I was able to see the big plot picture in a way I never had before. The characters became real people to me. My brain sparked with creative ways to solve problems I hadn’t been able to think my way out of before.
Allowing your mind the freedom to wander in a project will bring ideas you would never have had otherwise. Allotting an important, mentally taxing job the same amount of time you give to folding laundry and answering emails is counterproductive.
How to find the time is the big question.
I’m sure many of you reading this are thinking, “I’d love to have a whole weekend home alone, but it just isn’t going to happen.”
Following are a few suggestions:
Schedule a weekend away with other creatives once every six months or so.
Getting away doesn’t have to be expensive. If you are part of a company, a writing group, a networking group, you must know others experiencing the same frustrations as you. Can you pool your resources and rent a cabin?
Schedule one day a week to focus only and solely on your big project.
If you are going to do this, you’ll have to prepare. The day before your mini-retreat answer emails, take care of social media using Buffer or HootSuite’s auto posting feature, have all your deadlines met. Then turn off the phone, the internet, and focus.
I really enjoy going to a coffee shop or a library for my creative days. Putting myself in a different environment insulates me from the normal distractions of my home office where I’m used to multitasking.
Group your work into categories and allot a day for each.
I read an interesting post by a writer. The woman had an event coming up and was forced to work ahead on her blog and other writing commitments. She decided to tackle them by focusing one full day on her blog, the next on one client, the next on another and so on.
She was amazed by her productivity. She got a month’s worth of blog posts written and in drafts in one day and all her client’s work done the next. Taking time to focus on one thing at a time increased her output dramatically.
When you’ve put in the hours to get your brain firing on all cylinders, capture the creativity.
On the last day of my retreat, when clarity about my project was at its height, I made notes to myself. I knew I wouldn’t remember all the ideas my brain was bursting with when I got back to the humdrum of my day to day, multitasking existence.
Scene by scene, I wrote assignments to myself outlining what I needed to accomplish in that particular section of the book. This has made my writing go more smoothly and efficiently when I only have a few hours to spend.
How about you? Have you experienced a full-immersion project experience? How did it affect your outcomes?
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