Getting things done

Social tools and mobile devices can enrich our lives and help us organize ourselves in better ways.

But one – often overlooked – aspect of the new media reality is the steep increase in distractions and alerts. Calendar alerts. Email alerts. Social network alerts. App alerts. Task management tool alerts. SMS reminders. And so on…

Science tells us that everyday, we are hit by 11 million bits of information / second. On average, we capture around 50 bits of this information. And everytime we get distracted, it will take 2-4 minutes before we get back on track. And 40% of the time, we never get back to what we were doing, after a distraction!

A lot of people are struggling with this, and only some seem to be aware about it. Symtoms include:

  • Constantly checking the mobile phone
  • Multitasking in meetings
  • Frequent rescheduling of meetings
  • Overdue tasks
  • Signs of stress and illness
  • Memory glitches – “Ups, I forgot”

At Wemind we are currently running a special organizational development program (Digital Rehab) in collaboration with Mark Mayland.

The aim of the program, which is also a Wemind service offering, is to target the time management challenges and help organizations improve employee efficiency.

The program has three key principles:

  • Plan your focus
  • Make conscious decisions
  • Test your self

“Planning your focus” is about taking charge of your day, rather than letting the day take charge of you. In practical terms, spending time in the morning reviewing and updating your todo list, is time well spent.

“Making conscious decisions” is about taking charge of your situation, rather than letting the situation taking charge of you.

“Test your self” implies a reflective consciousness of your progress.

When it comes to tools and systems – we are recommending a radical approach.

  • Use only one system for task management
  • Switch off all alerts
  • Put your phone on silent, unless you are expecting a specific call
  • Check mails and social networks only 1-2 times during the day, unless you have a specific task to do that includes these media
  • An empty inbox – convert mails to tasks or archive them

However, these guidelines are only a small part of the program. In order to achieve efficiency, you need to understand how to break down and plan tasks the right way, how to make good meeting minutes and how to deploy these rules in a team.

For a consulting company, the benefits are obvious as we are basically selling our time to the customers. But all kinds of organizations can benefit from it – organization cultures are influenced in a very positive way, when people are on top of, an not burried under  – their diaries.

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