Time management is often touted as a cure for all your business woes. It’s not going to give you more time, it merely will help you to use the time you have more effectively.
Let’s talk about distractions and interruptions. Those are the things that stop you from completing a task from start to finish.
There are many techniques that you can implement as part of your daily routine that will help you work without intrusions. The ideas may be simple but they can have a powerful impact on how much work you get done.
To feel the benefit you don’t have to try all of them, especially at once. Repetition is the important part of establishing a new habit. Pick one you think will help. Then try it for 30 days.
Jessie James said he robbed banks because that’s were the money was. If you want to recover time, start where you probably waste the most; that’s on email. The average knowledge worker spends 28% of each workday managing email and that translates to 14 hours each week.
Your first step is to turn off notifications and only check email at prescheduled times. When you are deliberate with your time rather than reactive you won’t waste time switching between tasks.
Changing a behavior can unnerve those around you. An auto reply spelling out when the sender can expect a response should set clear expectations and reassure them.
You can have a similar message on your voicemail. You can say “Hello, this is Elizabeth from Garnett Consulting. I check my messages at 10am and 2pm. If you call after 5:30pm I will return your call the next business day.” Or you can say “My open call-in hours are between 3 and 4:30 pm.”
Quiet time is conducive to focused work. Try blocking out a few hours, 2 or 3 times a week to concentrate on valuable projects. Turn off the ringer on your phone, set your mobile devises to airplane mode and maybe even take your computer offline. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you can really concentrate on work.
Stand up when someone pops in your office. This visual signal is an easy way to convey that you don’t have a lot of time. It also helps to tell them what your time constraints are.
Set business hours, publicize them and keep them. Let clients and colleagues know when you are available for meetings, questions, phone calls and emails. Also advertise when you aren’t accessible.
Wear headphones to signal to others that you should not be disrupted. You can listen to music if that doesn’t distract you.
Whatever boundaries and rules you set, follow them or they will not be effective. Better management of your time requires you changing some habits and teaching those around you how you operate.
Others are not always to blame for interrupting you. Some distractions come from within. Did you realize that you may be sabotaging your own productivity?
Busy work can pose as real work. Constantly checking your email, mindlessly reading articles online or planning a website can be distracting you from getting important work done. If they are valid uses of your time then they need to be scheduled and limited in duration.
Checking social media or playing games are also ways to distract yourself. You don’t have to eliminate them completely. Instead consider using them as a reward when you finish an important task and set a timer to control how much time you use.
It’s an unrealistic goal to eliminate all interruptions and distractions. Your strategy should be to limit them. How do you handle them during your workday?