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How Google's Sergey Brin uses his time productively

Talk about a bizarre job interview. In last weekend's Wall Street Journal, Douglas Edwards recounts his 1999 interview with co-founder Sergey Brin, then 26 years old, to become Google's first brand manager. 

Edwards writes that Sergey showed up wearing roller-hockey gear: gym shorts, a T-shirt and in-line skates. "He had obviously been playing hard. I had known better than to wear a tie, but he took office casual to a new level."

Sergey Here's the hardball Sergey threw at him: "I'm going to give you five minutes," he told me. "When I come back, I want you to explain to me something complicated that I don't already know." He then rolled out of the room toward the snack area. I looked at Cindy (McCaffrey, director of public relations). "He's very curious about everything," she told me. "You can talk about a hobby, something technical, whatever you want. Just make sure it's something you really understand well."

Edwards writes: 

Later I found out that Sergey did this with everyone he interviewed. An hour wasted with an unqualified candidate wasn't a total loss if Sergey gained insight into something he didn't already know

What an amazing way to use time productively!

Today, I spoke to the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce on the topic of distractions and using time productively. Distractions are probably the biggest impediment to work life balance. All those small distractions that interrupt our train of thought can drain hours from our work week.

Speaking of distractions, have you seen Allstate's new Mayhem campaign on distracted driving. (see below)





Allstate's point is that distracted driving could be costly. My point is that distracted living could be a detriment to your ability to be productive.

Here are a few tips for staying focused that I shared with my lunch audience today:


  • Take away temptation. When you’re working on a task, shut down everything open on your computer not related to the task at hand.
  • Limit email. Turn off the bing, set specific times for checking email. 
  • Don't let Facebook suck you in. If you don’t’ rule Facebook or other social networking sites, they will rule you. Limit yourself to 10 minutes and then completely log out. 
  • Close the door. If you want to focus, shut out all distractions. You may even want to announce to your co-workers or children that you are doing it. You don’t want to do this all the time, but when you do, it sends the signal that you’re serious about getting something done.
  • Write it down. Most of us are visual. We know our goal but unless it’s in front of us, it’s super easy to get thrown off by so-called urgent interruptions.
  • Give yourself downtime. Allot a block of time to relax and clear your head.
  • Be strong in your focus. Be like a rock, not a tree. Don't get blown around by the chaos around you.
  • Have a 2 p.m. check in each work day. Ask yourself, what do I need to focus on for the rest of the afternoon so I can leave work behind me and enjoy my evening?
  • Be a role model. Remember, young people watch your actions and emulate them. If you're distracted by email or text messaging while you're eating, shopping, spending time with family, it sends the signal that it's okay for them to do it too.

Readers, how much time each day would you estimate that distractions cost you in lost productivity? Do you think its possible to shorten your work day by eliminating distractions?