How often do you start a task, only to notice an alert pop up on your screen or a colleague calls you, before you realise these interruptions whisk you away from the very thing you had set in your mind to do. I know the thinking, it will just take a minute, I’ll have a quick look, one brief chat and then I’ll get straight back to work – you’re guilty of some of these aren’t you?  Being distracted like this actually takes a lot longer to get your thinking back on track. In fact it’s said to take about 20 minutes to get back in your zone.

And it’s not just in completing our work that we get distractions, they pop up in running our businesses and generally in living our life. In business we can get distracted by projects or people that take our attention away from our targets for success. In life we can get distracted from making phone calls to catch up with our friends, from giving ourselves a little bit of ‘me’ time to reflect and restore our energy for living.

The biggest productivity zappers

Do you know the main things that really zap our productivity? Nine times out of 10, its technology that’s our number one distraction these days. Our phones, ipads, tablets, ipods – whatever the device, and all the social media and messaging platforms that we use on them – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Etsy, the thousands of apps available to us and even email. This digital era is really hurting us!

Have it all – balancing productivity and digital play

So do you want to know how to have it all – how to be productive and achieve the things you want (or have to), as well as get your digital play? Here are my top tips:

  1. Set a timer for each task – It might be a solid one hour to write a report, 45 minutes to write a blog article, 17 minutes to check and respond to social media, or a 5 minute phone call to a friend. Literally set a timer and stick to it.
  2. Eliminate distractions – When that timer is ticking, turn off all the distractions you can so you don’t get any notifications for email, your phone doesn’t ring (turn it to silent and put it face down on your desk), and maybe pop a do not disturb sign on your door.
  3. Eat your frog – You know the book Eat That Frog! don’t you? My biggest take home from it is to do your least favourite job first, whatever challenges you the most, get it done first in your day.
  4. Be strict with yourself – Imagine that you are your own parent, and be strict with yourself for your own good, make sure you stick to the timer, turn off the distractions, and get that worst job done first.

If you want more help to boost your productivity, you can contact me today.


Sally-Anne Blanshard is the founder and Director of Nourish Coaching and helps people reinvent their careers, businesses and life through structured coaching programs.  She has been featured on TV, Radio and is often quoted in newspapers and magazines.