The Secret Killer of Productivity
Three Convincing Reasons Not to Simply React to Your Day
You sit down to work and one of the following happens:
- You hear your infamous text ding and well, you know what happens next
- You choose to return this “one pop-up email” while working on something else (because it popped up and seems urgent) only to lose 10 minutes going back and forth
- Someone interrupts you with “hey, this will only take a second”
- You’re going to just check this one thing and it leads to another thing which leads to…
It’s like hitting rush hour traffic. Again. And again. You get absolutely no where.
I’ve always struggled in this area. I like movement and getting a lot accomplished quickly. But there is always a trade-off and a cost.
Yet reacting gives me a rush because I feel busy. I feel like I’m still accomplishing something at the end of the day.
Sadly, most of the time only God knows what actually was accomplished but it was something, right?!
The book The 5 Choices hits this topic dead on by describing it as URGENT
Q1 – Urgent / Important
If it’s Q1 (quandrant) you’re in crisis and it’s high stress.
Q3 – Urgent / Not Important
If it’s Q3, it just wants your attention and wants it now! But isn’t necessary unless you get a thrill or instant gratification from relieving the urgency of it
I want and should live in Q2 – Important but not urgent but live in the land of react.
But is there a cost? Could reacting actually be a secret killer of productivity?
Here Are Three Convincing Reasons Not to Simply React to Your Day:
1. Loss of Control
When I’m reacting the 1st thing I lose is the control of my day. I find this in two specific areas:
- Others Requests / Demands
- Personal Rabbit Trails
I also find someone wants me to respond instantly then they take their sweet time returning the favor.
Sure, I drop everything because it was urgent then it’s no longer that important. (insert bitterness here)
But I do have control to what is truly worth stopping what I’m doing to consciously choose to do something else.
2. Loss of Momentum
The 2nd loss is all momentum. How many times have you stopped to react to something and had absolutely no idea what you were originally doing? Yeah, no waste of time there, right?
Or more times than not, I have to re-read my work to see where I left off, and get back in the zone of whatever I was working on before I hi-jacked all momentum.
In the book, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (highly recommended), the author spends an entire chapter on “The Big Mo” (momentum, for those not following along at home) and the power of it when harnessed.
Yet, when we react, all of the momentum that has been gained is like a freight train slamming on its break. It will not regain its speed quickly it had before the sudden stop.
3. Loss of Results
In the end, the highest price for reacting becomes my results.
Sometimes it’s a short-term result because the reaction distracted me to a key thought or idea which I rarely recapture after that “so important” work stoppage.
Other times I lose precious time never to be retrieved again and I live in the land of regret. Been there. The admission is too high and never worth it.
Rarely is my reaction worth the time I took to stop and pay attention to it. But yet I so easily can get pulled in by its shiny attraction.
Here Are Two Solutions on How Not to React:
- Limit possible distractions
The less I have around me that can distract me, the less my urge to react dramatically decreases and my productivity increases.
Here are my biggest culprates to take me down on reacting to a distraction:
- Text – the ding owns me – I am a slave to it!
- Email – cannot resist the email pop-up across the screen
- Websites – seeing an open icon is like dark chocolate to my wife or a good bottle of vino for yours truly
I will justify “this will only take a second” (lies I tell you!) which it very well could be quick but I sacrifice momentum which is never worth the reaction.
I have a natural gift that I will find myself drawn to most distractions and then I’ve officially lost control. Can I get an Amen?
In the end, I must CHOOSE what is more important and have the discipline to determine what is most important and actually do it.
One of the best ways I can measure how disciplined I was for the day was to measure my actual results at the end of the day. I look back and see what was accomplished in comparison to my original plan for the day. (of course, both require planning – see link)
When I take the time to actually look at what was done then when went wrong, this valuable intel lets me know what to adjust for tomorrow.
But the reality is I must resolve that whatever I’m working on deserves my focus and attention more than reacting to the urgent. Then I must actually do it.
This reality takes discipline to delay instant gratification and produce the actual desired results.
IN THE END…
If you’re truly serious about productivity, you will do three specific actions:
- Determine what is your distraction (or if like me, distractions) immediately
- Seek to eliminate them at all costs (even instant gratification)
- Evaluate your progress daily
How are you doing in this area? Do you find this is the secret killer of your productivity?