“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” Tim Ferris
I love this quote by Tim Ferris, which I have also heard put this way: work smarter, not harder. We may spend a great deal of time working, but that does not mean that a lot is getting done. Productivity is the word we use to designate the quantity and quality of work that we produce. We want to produce better results with less effort.
The way to do this is to limit distractions. For myself, I can honestly say that I need some isolation to get my best work done. Even when I am working on team project, I need some time away from the team to produce my individual contributions. This time must be time that is spent without a lot of distractions.
Time-wasting activities are not only limited to interminable phone calls, emails and chats. They can also be “leisure” activities that creep into our work time. For example, it is almost impossible for me to get any work done when I am sitting in front of the television with my laptop. It is not because I am really watching the show; the television may just be one for background noise. However, every time a show or even a commercial comes on, my attention is pulled away. This means that I am spending far too much time in “mini-breaks” of even a few seconds. Every time my attention focuses on something else and I have to come back to the task at hand, I am essentially restarting my thought process. This is an incredible time waster that will eventually show up in productivity.
There is nothing wrong with leisure time, but make it real leisure time. Allot a certain number of hours per week for relaxation and fun, and do not let that relaxing activity creep into your daily work life. A time and place for everything, as our grandmothers would probably say!
The answer may not be the one you want to hear, but it is relatively simple: limit wasted time watching television or playing video games. Remain productive!