Category: Device Addiction

How interruptions destroy your productivity…

By , May 8, 2012 5:22 pm

“I’m embarrassed to admit that I was the cause of many of my interruptions. I didn’t realize that I was opening the door and allowing them in! On average I was being interrupted about every 15 minutes… No wonder I was working a 75 hour week! I’ve now learned how to fight back.”

John, Senior Manager and Client

I started coaching John two months ago when he was constantly staying late and working weekends trying to keep up with his heavy workloads.

He felt overwhelmed, out of control and extremely tired.

As we started working together, I realized that his workloads weren’t impossible. So why was he overwhelmed and unproductive?

The constant interruptions were distracting his concentration and killing his productivity…

Here’s what John realized:

  • He was inviting interruptions throughout his day because he was accessible to everyone all of the time.
  • He was at the mercy of other people’s phone calls, emails, demands and agendas that interrupted him constantly.
  • He relied on extra time to do HIS work: early in the morning before work or after work when he was most productive because no one else is around!
  • His day was filled with distractions and followed this pattern: start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start-stop (No wonder he was exhausted!).

John could see a pattern of how constant waves of noise and other people’s demands were eroding his productivity. Even casual conversations broke through any pockets of productivity. He’d get distracted and then find it hard to concentrate back on the task. John worked out that he was only being productive 2-3 hours each day! No wonder he was staying late or working into the evening!

Here’s the thing…

There are many reasons for interruptions – 95% of them are not necessary.

Here’s how to fight back and stop interruptions impacting on your day by protecting your Zone of Productivity


1. Work alone. If you’re always being interrupted then you’re constantly mind shifting between tasks. It can take up to 20 minutes to get back into your Zone of Productivity. It’s difficult to focus on what’s important and you end up wasting time. Book a room. Go to a coffee shop (That’s where this article was written!). Work on important things away from any distractions.

2. Limit your access – Stop being ‘nice’. If others ask questions and you’re always there to answer, they don’t have to think for themselves. You teach others to rely on you. Let them figure it out and make the decision. Your accessibility reduces their productivity as well as yours! Teach people how to treat you. ‘Open door’ policies are admirable but they are not practical ALL the time! Create and communicate some ‘closed door’ time too so you can get important things done.

3. Role model productivity – Leadership is NOT about how many hours you work! You don’t have to be available ALL the time. Nor do you have to be first to arrive and last to leave! Get clear on your High Value Work and schedule time to get this done. Be selective, set boundaries and let people know when you’re not available. Leave work on time at least three days a week.

4. Turn off communications – If you’re scheduling time to work alone on a project, then turn off all communications with the outside world: phones, SMS, email etc. It’s easy to become distracted by device addiction. You get to choose when you answer YOUR phone and emails. Don’t teach people that you’re available 24/7 – it’s not realistic!

5. Set a timer – People will steal as much time from you as possible and some like to talk because it’s better than working! Signpost how much time you have available at the beginning of a phone call or meeting and stick to it. If a person needs longer then they can schedule an appointment with you. Doing this helps keep the conversation focused and on track and keeps interruptions to a minimum.

Decide to be productive and fight back against interruptions. You have more control than you think.



Device Addiction – Are You Hooked?

By , January 23, 2011 5:13 pm

“People who have your cell phone number know they can instantly reach you for help with their immediate needs. E-mails are delivered within minutes – so they expect you to respond equally fast.”

Jack Canfield, Author, Cocreator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

As you know, we are living in the Information or Digital Age. Isn’t our technological world AWESOME?!

I’m so grateful for my laptop, the internet and my Iphone because  I can carry loads of information  with me as I travel the world. I’m always connecting, downloading and learning new things on the move.

What an amazing time we live in and what amazing tools we have.

Technology is relatively cheap and portable – So Yay! For the invention of the microchip! Everyone is connected.

Here’s the challenge…

While I love my DEVICES (IPhone and laptop) –  I also have to regularly check-in with myself to ensure that I’m not becoming obsessed by them!

I’ve coached hundreds of businesspeople and many of them have become unconsciously addicted to their Blackberries. Emails and 24/7 connectability play a huge part in workload overwhelm. They spend at least 3 hours a day answering email to keep up with the surging tide of information flooding into their inboxes. They take their inbox home and work on it while having dinner, watching TV or having quality time with the family! Most of  them are inundated with non-essential email. We have potential information overload at our fingertips!

Here’s how I see it…

Having a Blackberry or Iphone and distributing your email address and phone number is like giving someone implied permission to have a piece of you instantly – any time that suits them. Unless you set some boundaries you can unconsciously lose your power to other people’s agendas, demands and feel out of control.

Device Addiction can cause obsessive behaviour. This is where someone is constantly checking their phone or laptop even when talking to friends, family or colleagues at work. It becomes an unconscious habit. This is often noticeable and frustrating to the person who is on the receiving end of this behaviour (like your partner, children, friends, colleagues and even the dog!).

So here’s a quick test so you can check-in with yourself…And you might like to also ask your partner, a friend or someone who you trust to complete it for you too!

Take the Device Addition Test…

1. Answer the following statements honestly. Read the statement and if this is typical behaviour for you mark it as TRUE if not, mark it as FALSE.

2. What do your answers (and the answers from the other person!) tell you?

3. What are you going to do differently? Try making one or two small changes…

If you feel overwhelmed and out of control consider powering off your cell phone. Check your email only at fixed times during the day. Try being connected to technology a little less and being fully connected and fully present in your life a little more!

Device Addiction Behaviours True/False
1. I spend at least 3 hours a day answering emails (It’s not an essential part of my job/life).
2. If I hear a message alert I HAVE to check it straight away.
3. I constantly check for emails, texts and/or calls.
4. I answer EVERY phone call – Even if it is not important.
5. I check for emails and messages while watching TV.
6. I check for emails and messages while having dinner with friends.
7. I check for emails and messages while in the bath/tub.
8. I for emails and messages while playing with the kids.
9. I check for emails and messages while spending quality time with my partner/spouse.
10. I check for emails and messages while shopping.
11. I check for emails and messages while on holiday/vacation.
12. While I’m with others my phone usually goes off several times.
13. When I sit down my phone is always within arm’s reach.
14. My phone is NEVER powered off.
15. The thought of not having access to my phone/laptop makes me feel very uncomfortable.
16. Friends or family pass snarky comments about my relationship with my device!
17. I check my phone for emails/texts every time I go for a pee!
18. I check my phone for emails/texts while driving or at a STOP light or in traffic queues.
19.My phone is usually the last thing I look at before I go to sleep.
20. If I wake up in the middle of the night I will always check my Blackberry/IPhone/SMART Phone.
20. I lose all concept of time when checking my device.
21. Checking emails for 10 minutes often haemorrhages into several hours!
22. I sleep with my Blackberry/Iphone/Smart phone by the bed.

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