Distractions…the productivity killers! When you set your goal to make your best even better, one of the main questions you will face is: How do I improve my productivity?
It All Starts With Your Focus
Have you noticed that many times when you are focusing on your work, and you are approaching that momentum where things start to flow easily, you get interrupted?
I work with a lot of clients that have healthy productivity habits, yet they realize that when they are trying to get something done, they often take more time than originally had budgeted for that specific task. This is often caused by distractions: a co-worker who needs something from them, a phone call from a client, a team member with questions about a project. Every time you are interrupted or distracted, the energy you were getting from moving your project forward is halted, and you need to start over – not necessarily, but you need to gather new strength to pick up where you left, and you may waste valuable minutes trying to figure out exactly where that was.
If this sounds familiar, you need to make some changes to maximize distractions – only to minimize them later when you are really focusing on your work! (Find more about this on page 39 of Your Best Just Got Better.)
What To Do About It
Here are three easy ways you can minimize distractions during a work session:
- Identify one piece of work that deserves 30 or even 45 minutes of focused attention. Decide that now is the time to conquer the To Do list! Then, Go to a place where you can be alone for that time. It can be a different office or conference room in your office building, or even the coffee shop around the corner (or across town!). By getting away from your desk, you will not be available for phone calls or to check your emails.
If you take your laptop with you, remember that this time you will be focusing on work, so avoid doing anything unrelated to this task.
- You can’t leave your desk? You can still have a “meeting with yourself”, simply use a digital timer – hint: there are some great free timers online, if you want to practice this technique right now, just click here – and schedule a work session of 15 minutes. You will be able to focus on one piece of work during this period, and the timer will tell you when the time is up. Then you can set another 15-minute period, or focus on something else. I recommend that you let your co-workers and team members know that you will not be available during this short time, because you will be focusing on a particular project.
They may have to respect this focus time, and wait a few moments to interrupt you – this may also lead them to become more independent! And, you may find that your stress levels go down…Even a little bit!
- Before starting a work session, think of the people that might interrupt you – it may be a team member, a client or even a manager – and interrupt them first. You can use the time before your focus period to get in contact with them and anticipate anything they may need from you. You can also mention that you will be unavailable during the next 45-60 minutes because you will focus on a specific piece of work that you need to get done.
They will understand and most likely, they will respect this focus time and avoid interrupting you.
This will not only save you several minutes a day, but it can also make your team more efficient and independent. Go ahead and try this for five days. And don’t forget to share the results!
Jason Womack invests his time, energy and focus serving as an agent of change. He is an adviser and consultant to companies and governments, the author of blogs, articles and books on productivity, business performance and teams managing through rapid change. Learn more about Jason at www.TimeToGetMomentum.co. Follow along at www.Twitter.com/jasonwomack.