12. One priority, undistracted

Mar 31, 2020

Until the 1950's the word priority was mostly used singularly. It wasn't until the misguided belief that multi tasking is a good idea spread that priority turned into priorities (plural). Now we assume we need numerous priorities and multitasking is the way to get them done. Deven thought working this way deeply affects our productivity A study by Microsoft found that focusing on more than one priority at a time reduces productivity up to 40%. Hewlett Packard found the IQ of those interrupted by email, messages, or calls dip by 10 points, twice the drop caused by smoking weed. Pinging distractions lowers intelligence. 

I'm a bit obsessed with avoiding distraction so I can reach a flow state at work or in my workouts. I try to concentrate on one thing only. If done right I lose track of time, forget any worries and enjoy the activity for the mere sake of doing it. When I was less experienced a team environment helped me learn to work and provided valuable social interaction. But before long group classes and team work failed to produce the same effect autonomous work did. I realized the constant distractions prevented my flow states and best work. To return to them I had to learn to avoid distractions, set my own schedule, and manage obligations. In doing so I am flowing often and able to focus on one priority at a time. 

We need a full scale return to working on a single task. One priority. Doing one thing for an extended period of time without distraction helps you focus on the right tasks and do them faster with less stress. Research has found that for every interruption it takes 23 minutes to get fully back on task. That text message coming through in the middle of a workout or your stop to chat during a break between sets can really deter your work. Stay focused on your one priority at a time. 

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