Your To do list is running your life and perhaps ruining your life. Mundane after mundane task with a sprinkle of useful tasks marks a typical day in your life. Amazon shows over 120, 000 books on time management. With so many resources out there, why are many American’s failing to complete a simple to do list? We are a nation of people with too much to do and usually too much of the wrong stuff. One answer is that you spend way too much time listening to “noise ” in your daily life. Noise is all the stuff that doesn’t matter to your overall plan and purpose. Distractions. Stephen Pressfield, best selling author of The Art of War refers to resistance as what gets in your way of getting things done to be great. I am suggesting that your resistance tells you to listen to the noise. How much noise do you listen to?:
1. Facebook: constantly browsing, posting irrelevant comments, and looking for the little red number at the top. This is fine if its part of what you are attempting to do, but you better be honest with yourself. Do you need to be doing this to complete your to do list?
2. Texting: How many conversations do you have going during the day? Can you manage a single train of thought, or make one trip to the store without stopping to text someone? How about at a red light?
3. Internet surfing: Unless this is a specific task on your to do list, this is a time waster. Blindly surfing the internet without a purpose just to “peak” your interest is like floating on a life raft hoping you’ll land in Hawaii. The only place you’ll end up is with the sharks.
4. Sleeping in: Sleep is important, and sleeping in is nice when your to do list isn’t holding you back. Beyond the to list host Erik Fisher asks his guests questions about productivity. They all get up early in the morning and most find this time the most productive and creative time of the day. I personally prefer the 5:30-6:30 hour to read.
This is not an exhaustive list, there are plenty of other ways to waste your time. Turn down the volume. Eliminating these things is not feasible, and is ridiculous. You work hard and probably enjoy these things. Here are a few suggestions to help move the needle on your to do list:
1. Facebook: Use these instructionsto adjust the notifications on your facebook. The constant ping of your facebook is very distracting and can derail any train of thought and get you off task. Or you can simply take facebook off your mobile devices and access only from a desktop (that may require some detox).
2. Texting: Let people know you are in the middle of something. Tell them you will call them later. Keep the texts short and purposeful. Avoid texting too many people. Once people know you are a “texter”, they will want to use that as a primary communication method. This has its own problems we will address in another article.
3. Internet surfing: Have a purpose. Look up something and move on. Wandering around aimlessly is a waste of time. If you are truly interested in research a topic on the internet, assess how much time you think you need and schedule some time to do this. Don’t, however, use this a break from your to do list.
4. Sleeping in: Make and agreement with yourself and those you are accountable to on the days you want to sleep in. Be reasonable here, you don’t get those hours back. If you are going to sleep in, make it count. Make sure you actually get to sleep in and not get interrupted by other noise.
How has noise affected you? Share with me some tools you use to turn this noise off. I am particulary interested in numbers one and two, but share with me any type of noise you have dealt with and a solution or two in the comments section.