Have you ever been writing a song, only to be distracted by a potentially important phone call? Sure, you probably did need to pick up the phone and have that conversation. But when you finally returned to your song, you probably lost your place. And it probably took you the better part of 20 to 30 minutes to find your place again, if you managed to find it at all.
These kinds of things happen all the time. If anything, they happen more than ever due to phone, tablet, and even computer notifications. You’re interrupted in the middle of working on something important, lose focus, and have trouble finding your flow again.
In an article titled Context switching: Why jumping between tasks is killing your productivity (and what you can do about it), RescueTime writer, content marketer, and editor Jory MacKay points out that 20% of your productive time is lost when context-switching between two tasks. Further, 40% is lost when switching between three tasks.
The best strategy to reduce context switching is to refuse to multitask and choose instead to focus on one thing at a time for longer, uninterrupted blocks of time, switching only after meals, workouts, meditation, and the like. That’s the ideal. It’s easier said than done, however, even if you do turn off all device notifications.
Learning how to perform under any circumstance is just as valuable. And this usually requires that you put yourself in situations where you are challenged to focus. It’s like building muscle. If you don’t tear your muscles (microtears), they will never grow or become stronger during recovery. Similarly, if you’re never under the gun to produce, you may not learn how to adapt to different scenarios and continue to perform at a high level.
Engaging in self-development programs that last for several months will do the trick for most artists. Adding a new responsibility to your life and staying accountable to doing what the program requires you to do puts you in a situation where you must make things work, no matter what. Rising to the challenge transforms you into the kind of human being that can handle more.
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