Did you know that one of the best things you can do to increase productivity is to start each day by deciding what it is you want to get done, create a plan to do it and then get to work? This works so well because your goals stay present in your mind and become real.
But for many of us, even if we do identify our primary goals for the day, somehow along the way life happens and we get distracted. We never get around to those things that are most important.
Have you ever wished that “they” would leave you alone for 5-minutes so you’d be able to finish the project you’re working on?
Have you ever been right in the middle of something and your phone rings, you answer the phone and completely lose track of everything you had been working on?
Have you ever been doing research on the internet and then an ad or interesting article catches your eye and an hour later you find yourself lost and miles and miles away from what you were doing?
Have you thought to yourself, “I’ll get right back to it after I answer handle this quick email” but then at the end of the day you realize that you never got back to it?
Have you ever looked through a pile of mail and to do list in you personalised diary on your desk searching for one specific thing only to get sidetracked by all of the other things in that pile that suddenly need to be done?
The various forms of communication that we have available to us are some of the biggest distractions out there. Things like email, phone calls, text messages, snail mail, online advertisements or even colleagues stopping by our desks to talk with us or say “hi”. What often happens is that these communications distract us from what we identified as being what we want to accomplish on a given day.
We live in a society that places extreme value on both productivity and constant communication. Many of us (including myself) are finding that it is the very nature of instantaneous communication that hampers our productivity the most.
What these types of communication do is to force someone else’s priority to the top of your mind. Just because someone else wants information from you and sends you an email or calls you, doesn’t mean that you need to give them an answer immediately. In fact, just a moment ago, as I was sitting here writing this article my phone rang and I picked it up. My train of thought was interrupted and slowed my progress on my work. To make matters worse, I allowed myself to be interrupted by someone dialing a wrong number.
We can’t ignore the outside world completely nor would we want to. As social beings we thrive on being in touch. There are colleagues, clients, family and friends who truly need our help and we want to be able to help them. But what we can control is how we choose to deal with this communication.
Here are five strategies for you to use to manage these distractions over the course of your day to help you improve your focus and increase your productivity.
Shut off the “you’ve got mail” feature of your email.
Identify the time of day when you have the fewest interruptions. Use that time to work on your more intensive projects.
Give yourself permission to ignore the phone when it rings when you’re right in the middle of something.
When someone stops by to speak with you while you are in the working on a project, tell them your mind is on something else but that you’d like to schedule a time to speak with them later when you will be able to give their issues your full attention.
Set up a time during your day to answer email or phone messages in bulk instead of individually as they come in.
For more information about this topic I invite you to read my article, Dealing with Interruptions!, available at http://www.carriethru.com/resources/interruptions.php.