Beating the “Nothing Done” Syndrome

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

You know the drill – your to do list is miles long and it just keeps getting longer by the minute.   You get bombarded with text after text with things people want from you that need your immediate attention, your email in box has 50 unread emails with just as many attachments of material you “should” review.   Your phone rings perpetually with reminders from people who need this that or the other from you.   And if that instant message chime doesn’t stop on your lap top you are going to throw the machine off the balcony.

So what do you do – go look at your Facebook account and get lost in the minutae of the moment.   You end up getting NOTHING DONE.   Businessweek estimates we have $650 Billion dollars per year in lost productivity because of all these distractions that keep you from getting anything done.

Distractions are a powerful force programming our brain for ineptitude.   With every distraction, your brain triggers a small amount of dopamine which is a feel good hormone triggered whenever we satisfy an addiction.   However this comes at the expense of developing the pre-frontal cortex parts of our brain that helps us focus and achieve higher order goals.

You can start to overcome this very modern day addiction to distractions and you can start right now.   This is not another thing you “should” do – it’s just something you do do.   It’s a conscious choice you make on a moment by moment basis to choose a different reaction and a different way of being.   It’s a conscious choice you make to program your brain in ways that serve YOU.

The first thing you need to do – turn off your phone, your IM messaging, any alerts that tell you you have an incoming message and choose to focus for the next eleven minutes to focus on what we are suggesting in this article.   Focusing on one thing at a time while it may seem like a luxurious indulgence is an absolute imperative for you to do to beat the “nothing done” syndrome.

Because of modern day distractions, most people can only focus intently at the most for seven minutes.   At Cheetah Learning we know this and we switch up our curriculums to have their students shift their attention in new ways every seven minutes.   When you set up your day to focus in short bursts on the things that are truly important to YOU – you will start to notice you get things DONE.

Lets start with your kitchen.   When was the last time you just focused on cleaning the kitchen to the exclusion of anything else.   I have a daily practice to start each day with an “empty bowl” – that means I make sure my kitchen sink is emptied of all dishes.   It is an intense ten minute focus and it starts my day with a clean sink.   But it is so much more than just a clean sink.   This ten minute practice every morning sets me up for a day of knowing I can focus in another ten minute chunk of time.    Think about a ten minute practice you can do right now.   Maybe it’s cleaning up one pile of stuff on your desk for ten minutes to the exclusion of anything else.   Tomorrow do the same thing – pick ten minutes and focus on ONE TASK and only do that task.

In the world of Project Management – this is called “time boxing” – as you start to develop the neural networks for focusing you can extend the time you can focus.   Time Boxing can help you beat the “Nothing Done” syndrome in no time flat.

Get going, I figure you have ten minutes left of all your devices off – you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the next ten minutes.

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