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Maximise your performance by minimising your interference?

PersonalEffectiveness101Why is performance important?

To really perform at what we do, we need to constantly and consistently move things forward.  To move things forward, we need to give each specific part of that thing our full attention, even if only for short burst.  Giving something our full attention improves the quality and reduces the overall time it takes to get it done.

What is stopping us maximising our performance?

To answer that question, you should look at the work by Timothy Gallwey, called the Inner Game. The Inner Game as developed by Gallwey in 1974 builds on the notion of “Potential” and “Performance”. There is a gap between potential and performance which Gallwey describes as the thoughts which you have when going about an activity. These thoughts can be better described as “Interference”. Interference then is the self doubting thoughts you have that get in the way of your potential and reduce your resulting performance.

As Gallwey proposes, our performance is limited by interference caused by our thoughts.  In a typical work place, that is not the only place interference comes from.

We are subject to continual bombardment, more so than ever before, from things we allow into our space, like e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and SMS text messages.  Then there are the external things that we have no control over, like the phone ringing or perhaps the boss or a colleague wandering by and requesting something.  And what about the meeting culture? Have you ever felt your whole day was full of meetings?
How much can you get done if you are in meetings all day, surely that is interference also?

So how do we minimise the interference and maximise our performance?

The obvious answer is to just remove the inference right?  So maybe lock yourself away from your colleagues, the phone, the computer, your mobile phone.  And how about your own thoughts?  Should you just stop thinking?  Ok, so none of that is realistic, because you need your thoughts, you need your colleagues and you need all the tools.

What you can do however, is two things.  Firstly, for short periods you should limit the interference from the things you can control, i.e. turn off e-mail notifications and try to give yourself the permission to not answer phone or text for a period.  The second thing we can do is to clarify the things in our head, get on top of our commitments by writing them down in a list, then when done doing the thing you need to get done, you can review that list and get back to the other million and one things to do.  Being clear and in control for these short periods by reducing the interference will enable you to perform much closer to your true potential.

Where does your interference come from and how do you reduce it?

Brad Allen is a talented organiser and project manager, whose experience spans over 15 years and reaches into organisational change, business optimisation and emerging technology adoption. Brad's early career was spent driving and managing ICT adoption and change from inside enterprise organisations; since 1999 Brad has been designing, delivering and managing the provision of IT and business consulting. Brad's project experience is vast, having worn the hat of analyst, architect, implementer and leader in over 10 Business Reengineering project, more than 17 software development project and near on 30 ICT infrastructure projects. My blogging explores the things I've discovered and learnt about myself, my world and those I interact with whilst adopting the Getting Things Done® approach developed by David Allen.

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  • Good post Brad. I found a few months ago that email was my main distraction. So I followed the advise from “The four-hour work week” and pen emails three times a day: 8:30AM, 1AM1 and 4PM. So far it’s working out better than I thought.

  • Hi Brad, Welcome to BT and congrats on a great post. People rarely give themselves the breathing space to think about the task at hand and are already considering what’s next. The net result is that no activity gets one’s undivided attention and all activities suffer as a result.Regards, Niall

  • Nice post Brad! It should get all readers to think about their interferences and come up with a series of rules / guidelines. Plus, in addition to the tools you mentioned, there is also all the social media tools / interferences, which need to be controlled. So, think of your own interferences, and decide to take charge and for a set time and stop emailing, tweeting, blogging, facebooking, linking in, etc ;-))

  • Welcome Brad and nice post. With the advent of what sometimes seems like a million social media engagements, time management is a key activity in an increasing number of peoples working days. Being disciplined in terms of ensuring that interference, as you rightly phrase it, is controlled. Set your times for reviewing and updating whichever your chosen media are and then get back to other thing that are equally important for your business.

  • Hi Brad and welcome,
    Nice post and its good to be reminded that the voices in our heads (sorry interferences) can easily get us caught up in the task, becoming easily distracted. It’s nice to reel in the fishing rod now and then and reload, instead of leaving an empty line wavering in the current, with no real direction.
    My interferences come from within and then take the form of distraction (often fueled by procrastination) which result in tweets, linkedIn comments and indeed this comment, as I should be answering those on my own posts lol. Thanks for sharing though.

  • Thank you everyone for the welcome messages and your thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your “interference”. Some further food for thought – we should remember that interference isn’t necessarily a bad thing; some of my most creative and profound ideas have occurred to me whilst doing something complete unrelated. I believe the key really is to have a trusted place to ‘park’ the positive and creative things so they do not interfere with what you are doing at the time.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Brad’s Advice, I find the telephone a huge interruption, I sometimes try to have “phone-free” slots during the day, but then sometimes it’s urgent and/or if it’s a call from a new/prospective client, I don’t want to lose them, or I think I will deal with the call just to have done with it…

    Do you not find that people/clients/contacts are now less patient and less willing to “wait”?

    Time Management requires alot of self-discipline – I know all the theory but find the practice so much harder!

  • Oh Barney this is a great topic and one which nearly every salesperson and business owner will be familiar with. As you point out prevention is always better than cure and there are many things you can do to help avoid this situation. Let me give some additional pointers, social media is great in that with a little work, it allows you to develop a relationship with more many people and points of contact within the organisation. I try to form strong allies and these donu2019t necessarily need to be decision makers. One great tip Iu2019ve picked up is to make contact with and build a relationship with one of the sales team. We speak the same language, they understand better than anyone the issues and problems and are generally very helpful in providing an inside track as to whatu2019s going on and any internal politics that may be relevant. In short, the more research you do and the more people you seek out, the more opportunity you will have to know.

  • Hehehe Barney – Star Wars reigns supreme!nnThe DMU (decision making unit) can encompass a number of personnel for a business. Usually there’s a gatekeeper for that first contact, a financial member and a senior member (this person rules the roost and has the most sway). You can’t always meet the top guy, so you’ll have to impress as many as you can to reach them. Lets hope this person isn’t Mr D Vadar!nnOver-promising is an unethical practice I mentioned in a post last year and a terrible technique, because you should never promise something which you cannot deliver. The company will expect you to make good on your promises. It puts undue pressure on your organisation.nnIf you have one key contact and they leave, you lose your relationship building, so it is advisable to extend your networking within a business for this reason. nnGreat read Barney. And remember; the force will be with you…!

  • Hi Christina – you are quite right. You’ll rarely meet the top guy until the deal is almost done. Getting access to as many players as possible is the only solution to making sure you’re not left out in the cold.nThanks for adding your thoughts (and your obvious knowledge of Star Wars etiquette!)

  • Hi NiallnnSome great pointers – thanks a million for taking the time out to add to the conversation. POint well made on making alliances outside the direct line of decision makers. This indeed can help. nnThanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for sharing that link Fred. That is a good article by Chris and worth a read.

  • Thanks for sharing that link Fred. That is a good article by Chris and worth a read.

  • Thanks, it’s true a little understanding and attention can avoid this kind of situation: 

  • Thanks aileen for a worthy write-up and making  clear  that how helpful worthy  “information”  can be 

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