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Edition 156 – Interrupting Your Way to a Standstill

For the most part, technology has been a great boon to our lives. It has increased our ability to obtain information, driven improvements in productivity and created advances in business processes beyond anything imaginable in a lot of family businesses.

For the most part!

However, I can’t help but long, from time to time, for the good old days… 1989. Very few people had mobile phones and if they did, it rarely rang. That was back in the days when phones were phones, not devices! 

If I’d have said to my maternal grandmother back in 1989 that in 30 years time, everyone will have in their pocket access to the world that is not much bigger than a Kit Kat (she loved Kit Kats), she’d never have believed me. I’d never have believed me!

The problem with this technology is that it has permeated our lives to the point where it takes precedence over everything else. Lining up in the bank one recent afternoon to organise a bank cheque, another customer stopped interacting with the bank teller to answer their phone. Apparently, even mid transaction, it’s important to take a call from goodness knows who. Perhaps the world was about to end!

I could cut meetings by between 1/3 and 1/2 simply if people:

  1. Turned their mobiles off.
  2. Put their office phones on DND.
  3. Resisted the temptation to check their emails.
  4. Forbade any interruptions from entering the room, except in the case of danger or death.
  5. Actually sat down and focussed on the meeting.

If you went to a cafe, ordered your coffee and the barista stopped part way through making your Chai Latte with a dash of Hazelnut Syrup to take another order, finish off someone else’s toasted sandwich or wipe down a table, you’d be a little peeved.

If you underwent surgery, were on the operating table, your body opened up and your organs exposed to the elements and the surgeon’s phone rang, would he stop part way through a tricky part of the procedure to talk with someone else? I hope not.

Technology has advanced, but our ability to manage multiple tasks at the same time hasn’t. It’s why:

  1. Rather than play telephone tag, I arrange phone appointments at a given time.
  2. I check emails at set times of the day – and have found in the process that replies are faster and less verbose.
  3. Set dedicated times in my diary for meetings.
  4. My phone is on silent during meetings.
  5. Allow ample time in my diary for travel to and from meetings – so that I’m there on time, every time.
  6. I don’t take phone calls during meetings (unless it is two calls from my wife and then I know it’s urgent!).
  7. I take time to stop and reflect each week – uninterrupted and without electronic means at my disposal, away from my desk.

You’re more productive if you’re organised. You’re more organised if there are less interruptions in your day to day life. Time to stop the interruptions. 

This Week’s Tip

Change one thing in the next week – just one thing – and see what it does in terms of productivity, let alone the clarity it will bring.