Long term studies prove that the most important human discipline involved in long term success is the ability to forego immediate gratification for a larger but delayed reward.
The original study was done by Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. Children had a marshmallow put in front of them and were told that they could eat it, but if they did not, then they would get an extra marshmallow later. Following up on the children, Mischel found those who could resist the temptation of immediate gratification were more successful in later life. See http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/21/2/204/
The You Tube video (below) has another version of this experiment. Watch the agony on the little people’s faces!
So what are the lessons for you and me?
The most successful people are those who can avoid being distracted by the bombardment of emails, tweets, Facebook messages, Pinterest, texts and other digital distractions.
Avoid temptation: turn off alerts. Check emails on your schedule – not anyone else’s. Try sprint and recovery sessions (like an athlete) in your office – set a timer and work in 90 minute chunks followed by 15 minutes of recovery.
I will write about some other productivity techniques in the coming weeks. Tell me how you deal with distractions.