I can’t take it anymore! If you spend one more day sitting in that same unforgiving chair, in front of that same heartless screen, clicking through that same stream of unhug-able web pages – I am going to find out where you live, break down your door – and have a nice sit down chat with you over coffee and blueberry muffins… so you will remember what human interaction feels like!
I know your work is important. I realize that if you don’t get X, Y, and Z done your income could suffer. I live in that same reality – but I also manage to live in real-world reality, instead of virtual reality for every waking hour of every day.
Granted I have several virtual assistants who help me get everything done – and I definitely believe this to be one of the keys to getting time away from the computer. However, there is much more to it, and it begins with your personal standards. Once your personal standards are in check, it’s time to work on the precise mechanics of productivity.
It is Not OK…
Repeat after me – it is not OK to spend more than 8 hours a day on the computer. It is not OK to spend more than 6 days a week on the computer. It is not OK to allow business associates and clients take up your personal time.
It is not OK to be leashed to the Internet or work everywhere you go, every minute of every day, through a smart phone. It is not OK to neglect the people who are right here in front of you in favor of people who are behind some kind of gadget.
It is not OK to neglect all those things you have always wanted to do. And I have saved the most important one for last – it is not OK to allow interruptions.
Myths of Multi-Tasking
Photo by Lorenzo González
I am going to split hairs here – an interruption is different from a distraction. Where interruptions are always bad, distractions may actually increase productivity in some circumstances.
You may have heard multi-tasking decreases productivity – but I contend that the conclusions of those studies are purely generalities which are vastly misunderstood.
First, let’s set the stage. You are a creative. At the very least, being a blogger you craft words – but you may also possess the gifts of visual and auditory arts such as graphic design, podcasting, or even a musical inclination.
Each art form is not something we process – it is something we create – which makes the first point irrelevant to you, as brought forth by cognitive scientist David Meyer, “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”
You’re also not learning information – you are sharing your vision – which makes the second point of these studies stating doing two things at once decreases our understanding of a subject also irrelevant to you.
However, there is definitely one inarguably applicable truth conveyed in these studies. Interruptions – such as phone calls, e-mails, and instant messages - hinder our ability to return to a task for about 15 minutes.
Therefore, interruptions are the enemy – not multi-tasking. In fact, for a creative, multi-tasking may even increase your productivity – but only if it works with your personality and you understand how to make it work for you.
Focus vs. Multi-Tasking
Many philosophers, scientists, and doctors agree that every part of you – your mind, your heart, your body, and every sub-part thereof – needs something to be healthy and happy. When a part is neglected, it begins to demand attention. Conversely, when a part is over-used, it begins to rebel, malfunction, or cause pain.
No man is an island. In order to be at your best and in the best possible mood, all your parts must be in balance.
For a creative who spends most of their time being creative and sitting in front of a computer, that means you need to use the logical side of your brain and physically exert yourself from time to time in order to be at your best.
In other words – you don’t just want to get off the computer for the sake of living life. Getting off the computer also improves your overall wellbeing and productivity.
You may be the type of person who is able to get through any and every task from top to bottom if that is the only thing on your screen. Basically, if you can use the “focused attack” strategy to get things done, then it, in the end, is the most efficient way for you to work.
However, if you battle with creative blocks or completing projects in general, then it may do you well to multi-task. Precisely how you multi-task depends on what will distract you just the right way to provide insight and inspiration.
Come back next week and I’ll show you exactly what I mean – and exactly how to do it. Until then, give your logical side a rest