One of the things I see quite often is salespeople who are very distracted. There are lots of pulls on our time.
The average number of emails that people process a day is 115.
36 times an hour people are looking at their email.
80 times a day people are looking at their phone (that’s almost 30,000 times a year).
The biggest problem with this is the recovery time. We're not in the flow. You may have heard of the term flow, which is that state you get in where you're locked, loaded and you're super-efficient. For me, it's on a plane. When I'm on a plane and I'm sitting there for the two or three hours I feel I get three days of work done in a two-hour flight. There are no distractions.
It takes 25 minutes and 26 seconds, on average, to get from being interrupted to back to work. It takes another 15 minutes to get back into the flow state. If you're distracted four times an hour you're never in the flow state. If we're checking our phones 80 times a day, if we're doing 36 checks to email an hour, there's no way we can get into the state we need to be in to be effective.
Remember that there’s no such thing as multitasking. It doesn't exist. The science is now conclusive. You can't do two things well at once. You can do two or three mediocre things at once but you can't do anything really well. The human brain is not capable.
Here are a couple of solutions that I recommend:
Time blocking. Blocking chunks of time out to get specific activities done.
Technology Sabbath. I wrote about this a few years ago and I'd do it quarterly. I'll take a day and I won't do any technology. No email or computer and I'll shut it off. It's hard but it does start getting you thinking differently. You’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel and how much your head will clear.
Signs on the door. If you have an office, another distraction dilemma solution (that we have here in our offices) is a Do Not Disturb sign on our door. We just want to send the message to each other that ‘hey I'm in the flow state and if it's an emergency knock on the door otherwise please wait.’
Getting out of the office. Just leave the office. I go to the quiet room at the library. I also go to Starbucks. Someplace to get out of my environment, because when you’re in your environment it's really hard to think differently. And when you are out, act like you are on a plane. If you were on a flight without Wi-Fi, whoever was trying to reach you would have to wait the hour you're in the air. Somehow when the plane landed the world didn't all go to hell. It was still okay and you were able to then take care of the problem. Turning off your email and phone and not doing the ‘36 times an hour’ enables you to get into a better flow state. For you, flow might be prospecting or using LinkedIn or asking for referrals or generating a proposal or doing some account planning. When we get into the flow it can be really effective. But if we are trying to multitask, it never really pulls together.
What can you do in the next 30 days to eliminate some of the distractions in your life?