in Improvement & Development, Leading the Self

Getting Work Done: Flow and Distractions

Across the web, I have recently read articles/posts that underline an important thing – technology is taking a toll on our productivity and is keeping us from doing work that really matters – that is, if we allow.

I have seen both sides of the coin. I often get into a state when my work seemed to be just flowing and I never realized that I was doing the “work”. Things got done, time just flew, priorities accomplished, progress happened and a sense of satisfaction prevailed.

On the other side, I have been a victim of technology as well. Times when I got so distracted by my urge to “check” things – mails, social media comments, short message on my cell etc. – that it kept me from accomplishing what I had planned. I dread such days.

Tony Schwartz calls this phenomenon as “Personal Energy Crisis”. He observes,

“Human beings aren’t designed to run like computers: at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. By mimicking them, they’re ending up running us.

This post also throws some light on the fact that modern organizations cannot build competitive advantage by just asking people to do more. Read on for more insights.

In his recent post “Are You Making Something”, Seth Godin observes,

One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work.

This one is so true – our worlds (personal and professional) converge on devices we use. I recently saw an advertisement of a 3G service which says “Mix your worlds”. I am not sure if mixing our worlds would help us stay more productive and efficient!

Bottom line:

There are no silver bullets when it comes to personal productivity. Staying connected with world is as important as accomplishing meaningful work. The key is to strike the right balance. It is only when you spend quality time with your work that you can deliver quality in your work.

Join in the conversation:

How do you strike a balance between the urge to “check/stay informed” and the need to get important work done? What personal productivity rituals worked for you?

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BONUS: Read this excellent post by Tony Schwartz on Harvard Business Review, titled “Six Keys To Be Excellent at Anything

  1. Very true – keeping connected is sometimes as important as creating brilliant product. The danger is when something that is not really helping you get anywhere “feels” like it is a productive activity. Email is something that for me, feels like work, but often I can’t tell you what I actually achieved. I push myself to pick up the phone and limit email to 20 minutes.

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