Maximise your performance by minimising your interference?
Why 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?