Often what distracts professionals is that they have not deliberately (and strategically) set aside time where they make plans to be uninterrupted (also known as not distracted). When you put into practice the suggestions in this article, you are intentionally setting aside time is for the express purpose of accomplishing whatever key tasks you have determined need to handled – whether these tasks are in one of your professional roles or in your personal roles. It doesn’t matter. You need productivity slots in all parts of your life.
Brief note: You are the only one who knows how much time you need overall for project completions. You also know how much time is reasonable for you based on your work style, job or family roles, and method of working. Here are a few scenarios to implement or modify:
- Devote 30 minutes every single day to writing; set a timer and do not allow yourself to do anything except write for the entire 30 minutes.
- Schedule 1 hour of uninterrupted time at a regular time each day and during that time, only work on whatever your highest priority task is. Put a sign on your door.
- Have ‘productivity hours’ as I call them. At the top of the hour, turn off your email and work on whatever needs your focused attention. It could be finishing a budget, proofreading an article you’re ready to submit, grading papers that need to be returned to your students tomorrow (or today!), putting away all the materials you brought back from a recent professional trip, or whatever else you decide. Set a timer to go off at 50 minutes past the hour. At that time, check your email, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water or refresh your other beverage of choice. Then, at the top of the hour, start all over again, if at all possible. When you see how much you can accomplish in these focused bursts (without the distraction of email), you are motivated to put these into place more often.
- Planfully designate time daily to do nothing but make and return phone calls, particularly if you have quite a few messages each day to return and/or if making outgoing calls is a regular part of your professional responsibility. It’s often best to set aside phone calling time during a period before the traditional lunch hour and a period just before the end of the traditional work day. It helps keep everyone more focused. You can also record a message on your outgoing voice mail that lets callers know that you return phone calls twice a day and that they can expect to hear back from you during one of the next couple of phone times you have set aside.
- Block time in your calendar/planner marked as ‘project progress.’ You can do this at regular times each day, for specific periods of time each week, or scattered throughout the week depending on what else is scheduled – but making sure to schedule a pre-determined period of time each week.
Whether one of these scenarios works or if you need something completely different, figure it out and start getting productivity slots into place starting TOMORROW! Please – for your sake and others’…