Interruptions are the greatest killer of productivity. Millions of amazing projects die from interruptions each year. Seemingly innocent things like a notification sound from our phone or a quick question from a family member have the capability of completely throwing us out of “the zone”, destroying our flow, and making us unable regain the original rhythm.
The world’s greatest artists, scholars, scientists, and philosophers are fully aware of the power of uninterrupted work. For this reason, many of them isolate themselves from the outside world for hours, days, weeks, or even months. That is how they are able to fully focus, tap into the center of their creative intelligence, and thus produce their greatest work.
Below are ten ways that will help send your productivity through the roof and help you remain in the creative zone with no interruptions.
- Shut down the internet. Say goodbye to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and e-mail. Not forever–just for the duration of your work. Only closing your internet browser may not be effective, as you will most likely feel tempted to reopen it at some point to see what you have been missing out on in the virtual world. The best way to prevent unnecessary internet-related interruptions is to simply unplug your modem from the outlet–works like a charm. If there are other residents in your house who want to use the internet, simply disconnect your wireless adapter in your laptop/computer and close all of the programs that you won’t need. If the work that you are doing doesn’t involve using a computer, simply shut it down.
- Turn off your phone. We are more addicted to our cellphones than to anything else. Don’t even bother with putting your phone in silent mode. If you do that, there is a great chance that you will be tempted to check it at one point or another, which will throw you off track. I have to admit that for me, someone who owns businesses and manages employees, this step was challenging at the beginning, as I normally receive several dozen business-related phone calls and emails on a daily basis. But one day, I just went ahead and did it. Let me tell you: don’t be afraid to press the power button. Yes, you will be unreachable for some time but the world will not end. At least it hasn’t for me.
- Go to the bathroom. Before going into your room to begin work, visit to the bathroom to empty your bladder and bowels. Doing work with as little waste in us as possible is much more pleasurable and allows us to fully focus on the task at hand. Also, there is nothing worse than having to step out of your zone, especially during the peak of creativity, in urgent need of the restroom.
- Keep snacks in the kitchen. Don’t bring any food into your working space. If you feel hungry, eat before you begin your work. Consume a meal that is light, preferably consisting of fresh fruits and/or vegetables. When we work on a full stomach, our blood is concentrated in the digestive tract rather than in our brain, which reduces our mental performance and thus decreases our productivity. Eating and working are two activities that should not be done together. When we eat, all of our attention should be focused on eating or else our food will not be properly digested. When we work, we should be entirely immersed in that activity, or else the result of that work will not reflect our true potential, leaving us unsatisfied in the end.
- Ask not to be interrupted. Inform everyone in your household that for the next several hours, you do not want to be bothered. Let your husband, wife, and/or children know that you will not be available for anything during the time that you specify. If they truly love you, they will honor this request.
- Go into your room and lock the door. Locking yourself in will prevent anyone from coming in and messing up your flow. Even though you will let everyone know what the deal is, if there are young children in your house, there is a good chance that they will forget what you asked them not to do.
- Don’t entertain unwanted thoughts. As we are working, certain thoughts that have nothing to do with the actual work that we are doing, often come into our mental space and attempt to distract us. The key is to not entertain those thoughts. When we do not respond to thoughts when they enter, they soon leave. If we pay close attention to how the mind works, we realize that undesired thoughts are not the problem. It’s when we voluntarily give them our attention that makes them stick around and prevent us from focusing on what’s important. If you observe an unwanted though wanting to come in, simply don’t pay it any attention.
- Diffuse rosemary essential oil. Rosemary helps enhance mental clarity, memory, and concentration, all of which help boost our productivity. You can buy an electric aromatherapy diffuser or simply boil a few cups of water in a pot, add a few drops of the essential oil of rosemary, and set the pot somewhere in your room.
- Do one thing at a time. Focus your entire attention on one project at a time. If the project that you are working on is complex, divide it into sections. Work on one section at a time. When we try to focus on several things at once, our productivity decreases due to the power of our attention being divided among several tasks. Think of it as building a wall. If you try to lay two bricks at the same time, using both hands, wanting to accomplish your job faster, there is a great chance the bricks will not be placed as they should be. You may end up finishing the wall quicker but it will most likely fall apart rather fast. When you, however, take one brick at a time, using both of your hands, and lay it as perfectly as you can, when you are finished, you will end up with a strong, solid structure.
- Be flexible with time. Instead of having a set time each day dedicated for doing your creative work, allow yourself to feel inspired; let the creative energy naturally come to you and begin working right then. Our productivity is greatly determined by how inspired we feel at the time of working on the project. Oftentimes, by forcing ourselves into doing creative work, we will actually end up wasting a lot of time just trying to get into the flow.