This is an extract from the 30 Day Time Management Challenge by Clare Evans
Today we’re looking at distractions and interruptions which can have a significant impact on your time. So much so that they could be adding up to as much as two hours a day!
Each time you get distracted or interrupted, you lose focus on the task you were working on and it takes time to return to the task in hand. If you get distracted a few times each hour, it soon adds up.
Distractions can be either internal (thoughts, feelings) or external email, phones, people, sights and sounds.
Today I’d like you to create a Distraction log to see what the impact is on your time. In much the same way as you did with the Time Log on Day 2.
Make a note of the time you get distracted or interrupted, how long it lasted and the source – email, phone call, colleagues etc.
At the end of the day add up how much time you spent on distractions and what the sources were. Perhaps there’s one main source of distraction or several.
Once you’ve identified the source(s), you’ll be better able to deal with them.
When you get distracted or interrupted, ask:
- What’s the best use of my time right now?
- How important is this distraction?
- What is the impact on my current task?
Decide whether to deal with the distraction there and then or continue with the task you’re already working on.
Dealing with the source:
- Email – if it’s not urgent deal with it at an appropriate time. Switch your email off when you’re not working on it. I’ll go into more detail on how to deal with email later.
- Phone – If it’s important to answer calls promptly as part of your business do so. If it’s possible and practical – switch the phone off or leave it to voicemail if you need some uninterrupted time.
- People – if clients, customers or colleagues interrupt you at an inconvenient time – say so. If you’re busy – let them know you’ll get back to them when you’ve finished what you’re doing. Make sure you do. People are often fine if you let them know – remember what I said about boundaries.
- Noise – wearing headphones can help block out office noise, as long as it doesn’t become a distraction in itself. Go to a meeting room or a quieter area if you work in a noisy office and need quiet for a short while.
- Other distractions – remove yourself from the source of the distraction. Even your own office can become distracting and if you work from home there’s always something to distract you from work. Coffee shops and hotels may have somewhere where you can work and although they have different distractions, being in a different environment can help you to focus better.
Remember – 80% of interruptions are trivial.
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