I kept a diary of how I spent my time recently, and noted a number of things I suspected, but did not have the “data” such as it was.
- Being “connected” had reduced my productivity significantly. My concentration was broken when emails came in, seemingly demanding just a look, people ringing, texting, just wanting an immediate response/decision irrespective of my current load, and capacity to appropriately consider the response.
- The discipline of the “to do” list had been destroyed. As a young bloke, I did a list for the next day, last thing every night. That list offered a priority guide, time allocation, a memory prompt, and a record of activity each day. Whilst like most plans it was a point from which to depart, it still gave structure to my day, week, and priorities. That discipline has effectively gone in the welter of competing tasks surfaced by connectivity.
- My “head-time” had been destroyed. In the dim, dark, unconnected past, I had time to consider options, seek considered input, and just allow a situation to stew in my brain over a period, which often led to options not consciously in the mix at the outset. This happened as I walked at lunch-time, sat in traffic, over the weekend, and just having a casual chat with colleagues whose council may have added a perspective. All that valuable head-time is gone, driven away by the access and immediacy of the devices in my pocket, and the expectation of others that an immediate response is mandatory.
Years ago, a mentor urged me to distinguish between the urgent but not important, and the important but not urgent, and act accordingly. Being connected has given the urgent a huge increase in leverage at the expense of the important, and it is taking a real effort to redress the imbalance.
I have reverted to a to do list that structures my day, turn off all devices in the middle of the day and take a hobble around the block and talk to myself or a colleague, and set out to do the most important thing on my list first thing in the day. This added discipline is proving to be much harder than I thought, but useful. My personal productivity seems to have lifted, as has my satisfaction with the tasks completed every day.