Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Ridiculous Distractions (or "How To Do a Full Day's Work in Three Hours")

A heart surgeon checks Twitter while in surgery.
An airplane pilot is texting while taking off.
A lawyer watches a YouTube video while waiting for her turn to make closing arguments.


These people are professionals who are doing important work. Work which requires 100% concentration and focus. Lives are at stake.

Of course, they should be undistracted.

But most do not approach their work the same way we expect heart surgeons, airline pilots, and lawyers to approach theirs. We allow ourselves to walk in distraction and ambiguity to the point of paralysis.

The workplace is full of people who spend 8 hours every day doing less than 3 hours of work. *

What if we spent three hours every day doing eight hours of work, gaining several hours (every day) to spend with family, friends, learning, side projects, or simply margin?

It’s possible. Try this when you have a project that needs your undivided attention:

Turn off email. Put the phone in airplane mode and leave it that way. Stick a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Set a timer for 50 minutes. Put your butt in the chair and do the work. Take a ten-minute break. Repeat two more times.

If you do this, you’ll have finished more work in three hours than most do in a day. You’ll be more productive than most of America. You’ll be a professional.

Sounds ridiculous. But it’s true and should be normal.

The absurdity is in our 21st-century distractions.

*(The 8-hour workday is a remnant of industrialism when it took three shifts to keep factories up and running 24/7. Eight hours is not the optimal amount for human focus.)