Protecting your time allows you to focus on the task a hand. If you're consistently interrupted, then your productivity will suffer. Here are some of the best strategies to control them.
Use out of office. Using your out of office effectively is one of the most powerful productivity tools. By default, your taking ownership of a potential distraction and giving it a place.
Instead of staying in the reactive mode, you now switch to being proactive. Turn on your out of the office a certain times of the day when you want to focus on those “urgent and important” tasks.
A simple script like the below can work well:
“Thank you for your email, I am working on urgent tasks at the moment and will respond to your email at the next available opportunity. If your email is urgent, phone this number ###########”
Telephone calls. It turns out people are the worst time wasters. Getting savvy over telephone calls is another way to free time up to focus on what's important.
When someone rings the phone, quit the small talk and get straight to the point and say something like “Hi John, I'm a bit caught for time, but what can I help you with today?”.
Similarly, if someone is walking in your office, you could say, “I'm just on my way, but how can I help?”.
Streamline by creating a frequently asked question (FAQ) document. When you notice a common trend of questions that are consistently being asked, add the question and a detailed answer to a FAQ document.
If you're asked anything similar in the future, you can go to it and copy and paste or share the whole document with those who are likely to ask.
This will save tons of time in the future while streamlining response rates to those that are asking.
Say “No” more often. As simple as this sounds, all too often, people do not use it. You can say No politely in a way, so you don't come across as being arrogant or confrontational.
For example, when you're asked to participate in something that's going to shift your focus, you can say, “Really appreciate the offer, but I've some projects that need completing right now”.
Do not disturb. If you've ever stayed in a hotel, you'll have noticed the doorknob has a “do not disturb sign”. This simple little sign tells the cleaners that you are not contactable when you display it – job done.
The same strategy can be used in your office or home office. You can pick one up from Amazon for the price of a coffee and use it when you need to.
The early bird. Getting up an hour or two earlier is another effective approach.
Simply because if you get up before everyone else, fewer people are around to interrupt you. You get a head start on the day where willpower is at its highest, and therefore, productivity can flourish when you've more fuel in the tank.
Similarly, you could stay an hour late a few times a week and wrap up your most important tasks. Often this allows missing the traffic jam on the way home, which is a double bonus!
Now that’s all the time we have for today, but before I go I want to ask you a question.
What do you think is the hardest part about staying productive?
I’m really looking forward to reading what you have to say, so be sure to reply to this post and let me know. Until our next time though, stay awesome and keep positive!
Dominus Owen Markham