Stop checking your email and focus on the job at hand

Stop checking your email and focus on the job at hand

When Rachel Weingarten isn’t working as a marketing consultant, writer and public speaker, the three-time author can be found launching a nonprofit, volunteering or teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels.

“I do a lot,” says the south Brooklyn resident and founder/blogger at and “So, managing it all is a true balancing act.”

During a typical day, Weingarten utilizes four cellphones, two screens and one smart TV on her desk. Recently, she pitched a new client and schmoozed on the phone while Skyping with her business partner.

“It was madness all around,” she says.

Aiming to be more in the moment and step away from “daily microaggressions on Facebook and the outrage of Twitter,” Weingarten implemented “tech sabbaths” — breaks from social media ranging from 24 hours to a weekend or week. And it’s working.

“I’ve gotten better,” she says. “I see how other people’s work can get sloppy when they’re concentrating on 20 other things, so I try to make a concerted effort to pay attention, tackle something and move on.”

Amanda Kowal Kenyon, chief organizational effectiveness officer at Ketchum, a global communications consultancy based in Midtown, sensed a necessity, too. “My work seldom includes emergencies that require immediate attention, yet I found myself checking my email as if I were a transplant surgeon awaiting news of an available heart,” she says.

Eliminating multitasking altogether was too daunting, but the Forest Hills resident implemented 25-minute sprints to prioritize work and block out the world, referred to as the Pomodoro Technique.

This time-management tool was devised by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that inspired him as a university student (pomodoro is Italian for tomato). Using this method, as outlined in Cirillo’s book “The Pomodoro Technique” (Penguin Random House) Kenyon works distraction-free for 25 minutes and then takes a break, often checking emails before diving back in.

“When I need several sprints together, I set an out-of-office notification to alert emailers that I may be delayed in my usual response time. While I am not free of multitasking, I consider myself on the road to recovery,” says Kenyon.

Chris Bailey, author of the new book “Hyperfocus: How to be More Productive in a World of Distraction” (Viking), says it’s a process. “Taming distractions through hyperfocus gets easier with time,” he says.

The productivity expert explains that “we’ve never been so busy while accomplishing so little. Productivity isn’t about cramming more into our days — we could stay busy replying to emails all day and not accomplish a thing. Productivity is about doing the right thing in each moment.”

By focusing on fewer things, we’ll naturally feel less overwhelmed. Plus, it typically takes 25 minutes to get back on track after a distraction or interruption. That’s why he recommends deliberately using technology to tame distractions by downloading desktop distraction-blocking apps such as

Freedom or Cold Turkey, which block users from certain sites and apps, or Rescue Time, which tracks your time management. In loud environments, use noise-canceling headphones, and turn off phone notifications. You can then treat yourself to a break by indulging in as many distractions as you want after focusing on a task.

Bailey advises choosing three tasks every morning to accomplish by day’s end. “List the most important thing first; the task you want to accomplish no matter what,” he says. Then stick to it. “Our work takes 50 percent longer when we switch between tasks, relative to when we work from start to completion. When we’re on our computer, we work for an average of just 40 seconds before switching to something else.”

By actually focusing, we’re able to enjoy more rich, meaningful experiences both professionally and personally.

“We’re able to do so much more when we get better at managing our attention,” says Bailey. “We have greater focus, become more creative and process meaningful moments more deeply. We remember more, experience less guilt and doubt and gain greater mental clarity.”

Simply letting your mind rest — something Bailey refers to as “scatterfocus” — may reap remarkable results. “Your attention wanders to random and marvelous places,” he says. Whether it’s a lightbulb moment in the shower, during a walk or listening to music, downtime activities recharge focus and creativity.

“I’d argue that for every minute you let your attention rest, you make that time back tenfold since you’ll be able to work with so much more energy, intention and ideas at your disposal,” says Bailey.

Source link