We found that increasing your engagement and productivity at work could be as simple as making a plan for the day. But these positive effects depended on what type of plan employees used and how many interruptions or disruptions they faced in their day-to-day work.
What they found is that we need to plan for distractions.
They looked at two types of planning:
- Time Management Planning – which the researchers defined as planning what you are going to get done that day
- Contingent Planning – or…how you will change your plan if you get interrupted. Which will happen unless you unplug everything and hide in a cave.
Just doing time management planning isn’t enough to stay engaged and productive.
People over-estimate how much they can get done and don’t consider what might hinder them from getting through their to-do lists.
Contingent planning accommodates the interruptions.
For me, this looks like:
- Here are the 3 things I plan to get done today and when I am going to do it. (Time Management planning – this shows up as blocks on my calendar)
- Here’s the ONE thing I will get done today no matter what. (Contingent planning – the first thing I do that day)
The days I plan for interruptions and have contingency plans just in case – I walk away from the day feeling more accomplished.
The days I carefully plan what I am going to accomplish, then get pulled in a million different directions that I didn’t plan to get pulled in, I finish the day tired and frustrated.
The researchers set aside the question of interruptions and how to control the distractions in the first place. They are assuming that we are not able to control these.
They may be right.
I’d love for us to at least start asking why we are so distracted and what purpose those distractions serve.
Why am I inviting distraction? How do these distractions help me?
How am I distracting others? What are my motives?