Has technology caused our minds to run ADHD? How to align your daily activities with your long-term goals. June 17, 2015 14:05
It goes something like this – You set out to email a client about case XYZ. As you type line 2 you realize you’re hungry, so you pause and get a snack. As you get the snack, you remember you need to call and make a doctor appointment. You get the doc’s voicemail, so you leave a message. That reminded you that you forgot to call and excuse little Johnny from afternoon PE. You get back to your computer and realize you need to order flowers for Aunt Sally’s 50th in California. So you place the order. Oh yeah, what was I doing? You go back and finish the email. You hit send only to realize you forgot the attachment. You hit “recall”, go to put the attachment in when a colleague walks in and wants to chat about your weekend. Your phone rings – it’s the doctor’s. What appointment did I need to make? Oh yeah, I still need to call the school.
This scenario is extreme, however, maybe some of you can relate – it’s a cycle of distractedness. Not finishing anything all the way before turning to something new. Our minds shuffle from one thing to another like a series of popup ads on a web page.
Could technology in its fullest the past 7-10 years be causing our lack of focus? With the Smartphone came the internet, email, popup messages or “notifications”. Everywhere we turn is a popup live message. Sean commented on Sarah’s picture. Aunt Kathy hit “like” on your picture. Ten more emails in your inbox, and here comes 3 texts and 2 “reminders.” Have we trained our minds to “skim” the surface and not go deep on any one item thus creating a lack of focus and attention? Does this lack of focus cause us to be constantly “busy” but not productive?
If this resonates with you, the next question is do we need to fix it or is it okay? The answer solely depends on the individual and his/her goals. If you are trying to make sales, for instance, yet you never follow through on cold calls or leads, you will ultimately fail. If you are retired and you put off planting flowers for playing golf – no one knows for the better. If you are trying to run a company, yet your day to day activities are scattered and without priority, you might want to take another look.
So how do we fix this? Technology is here to stay – it might even get “worse”!
There are a few techniques that can help of course using technology.
First – make a list of daily priorities that must get done to be successful in achieving your goals. What percent of time out of an 8 hour work day, should you be allocating to these categories? For instance, back to the sales person example, if you should be cold calling 2 hours a day and responding to email 30 minutes, write this down. At this step, do not judge yourself or “fix” it. Just write your categories of importance down that ALIGN TO YOUR GOALS.
Secondly – Prioritize your categories. Of the categories and the designated time allocated to each, are there some categories that are higher priority than others? As a sales person, answering a customer’s email might be higher than turning in reports.
Thirdly – make a list of how you’re spending your day now and the amount of time for each category.
Fourth – compare the ideal (this is how to be successful) list to the current way I’m doing things list. Where are you out of whack? – Analyze what is causing you to miss the boat. Is it distractions? Lack of focus? Lack of prioritizing? Lack of motivation? Avoidance? You need to be super honest with yourself at this stage.
Lastly – Create a new daily schedule using your new prioritized list. Block out time in your calendar for specific items or categories. For instance from 8-10AM I will make cold calls every day. This is blocked out and I close down email, phone, web browsers etc until 10:00. From 10:00-11:00 I return customer’s emails and calls only. This is again, scheduled in your calendar and kept to. Be sure to give yourself some break and free time too. Be realistic.
In summary, Is it a perfect system? No, but with some deliberation, you can gain control of your day to align what you do with what you want to do to be successful. The next time you see notifications and texts etc you might stop and think “Hmmm I’ll look at that after my cold calling time.” Now, that’s a baby step improvement!