Studies have shown that every time we get interrupted it can take up to 25 minutes to regain concentration (muse.com). Not only that, but on average we are distracted by one thing or another every 11 minutes. Now think about that for a second…
You just need to do the maths to realise it’s probably time for a shake-up. Here’s a few of the biggest culprits when it comes to distractions…
Kill back the emails
As far as the stats go, 17 minutes is the time it takes you to get back to the task in hand every time you are distracted by your inbox. What can you do about this?
- Unless managing an inbox is your full-time job, check them only twice per day, if you can bear it.
- Turn off your notifications and put on an out of office until you can read and respond to them.
It will save you hours, and best of all – the truly important emails will become known to you if followed up by the person that sent them. For all the rest, don’t worry and leave them until later. Get strict about this rule and you will see a huge difference to your productivity in a working day.
Optimise your cold calling schedule
If you’re getting nowhere with arranging those meetings, and reaching the person you need to is near impossible, you may find you hit the jackpot if you change the times you make those calls. Stealth mode makes sense if it guarantees a better chance of success!
By making cold calls between 8 – 8:30am and 6 – 6:30pm, you may avoid secretaries (gate keepers) and book twice as many appointments. (Tim Ferriss)
Consider Parkinson’s Law
The old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted, is the essence of Parkinson’s Law. In other words, if you give yourself 20 minutes to finish a task you will finish it in in 20 minutes. If you find you have 40 minutes to complete the same task, hey presto – you’ll take 40 minutes!
Limit your time, set yourself the challenge and tell yourself you will devote X minutes/hours to a certain task and stick with it. You will be thanking yourself for this when you realise how much more you can cram into your day.
Stick with the important
Sticking with the important will structure your time most efficiently. You’ll have no reason to complain that you didn’t have enough time to get everything done, because suddenly the lesser tasks will no longer be important.
Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and a very clear deadline. (Tim Ferriss)
Know when to work alone
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, when it comes to getting things done, closing the door on all distractions is often the best way.
This goes for those distractions of your immediate environment, as much as it does your mobile phone, which studies show account for over 25% of distractions at work!
Leaving your phone out of sight, sound and reach
increases productivity at work by 26% (Kaspersky.com).
Cutting out all manner of distractions will help you keep a solid focus, and your thoughts will flow freer on paper.
Know when to outsource…
If all else fails and you have the self-discipline of a toddler, when it comes to putting your plans into action ask yourself these questions…
- What causes me the most frustration and boredom?
- Each time you are interrupted or change tasks, “Could a VA do this?”
- Identify your top five time-consuming tasks that distract you from the important and consider “Do I really need to be doing these things?
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Written by Lisa Bamforth