My husband recently challenged me to answer the question, “what is the secret to being productive?” This meme was started by Ben Yoskovitz. Jason shared his childlike secrets to productivity. My answer: discipline (aka being mean). Do I have Adultitis? You be the judge.
When I taught Kindergarten I had to be mean sometimes. I’m sure parents can relate. It was hard at first, but then I just got used to it. ;)
Sometimes Johnny had to sit at the table in the corner by himself to actually have a chance at completing his handwriting sheet.
Sometimes I had to close the door when there were exciting things happening in the hallway, like 4th graders lining up for lunch.
Sometimes I had to snuff out their excitement and kinder buzz after the custodian would come in to drop off our recess ball (which they had missed) that was found on the roof of the school.
Sometimes I even had to remind them that it was time to “work” and not to play.
I was so cruel.
As much as the kids got sick of my reminders and limits, I sometimes wish I had my own kindergarten teacher with me everyday. Now I just have to be mean to myself, which is a lot harder. Anyone who knows me knows that I am easily distracted, which is a very childish trait. (one that I’m not proud of) I used to be proud of how I could do ten things simultaneously, aka multi-tasking, until I started to accept the reality that it did me no good. A few years ago a study came out comparing multi-tasking to marijuana use.
Those distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ – more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana, said researchers.
Yikes. This got my attention, and I’ve been trying to focus ever since.
Here are a few of the secrets I’ve learned.
1.) Don’t let your distractions take over. My kindergartners had a hard time with this one. It was hard to teach math when it was snowing out. Take proactive steps to minimize the things that lead you off track.
Close your door. Turn the ringers off and let the calls go to voicemail. Keep your email closed until it’s time to do email. Close the blinds. Write a note to remind yourself of something instead of getting up to go do it when you think of it. Ask your colleague, “Can we talk about that when I get done with this in a half hour?” Set a timer for open ended projects, so you know when you should stop. Go through the mail at the end of the day, not when it gets dropped off. Keep back-up supplies on-hand, so you don’t have to run out to the store unexpectedly for things you absolutely need like printer paper or cartridges.
2.) Make the task into a game. This was my number one secret in the classroom. Most of the time they didn’t even know they were learning. They just thought we were playing games. I have found that one way to keep me focused on a project is to make it fun. For instance, if I need to make calls for the next four hours, I keep track of the calls using points for the different situations. For instance, three points if I get ahold of my contact, 1 point for a voicemail, 1/2 point for email, etc. When I start the game, I set a goal that I try to get to. It keeps me persistent and helps me put the calls in perspective, recognizing that one bad call is not the end of the world. There are a lot more points to be awarded. Reward yourself for getting to your goals. If you’re having fun, there is less chance you’ll be tempted to be distracted and get off focus.
3.) Get enough sleep. It’s way more fun to stay up, but sleepy students never learned much, so why would it be any different for adults. Turn off Leno, shut down the computer, and get some winks. How much? You know how much you truly need. Lack of sleep is connected to seemingly everything- obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, shorter life spans, caffeine dependence, Adultitis. Rob Stein shares in his article,
“Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body,” said Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago. “We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.”
If you are well rested, you’ll have the energy to be more productive. You may even have a smile on your face.
[tags] ultimate guide to productivity, Adultitis, Ben Yoskovitz, multi-tasking, distractions, kindergarten, sleep deprivation[/tags]