My mantra is “Deadlines Drive Deliverables” and I truly believe that. However, that whole philosophy is driven by the fact that I am a habitual procrastinator. I can put off a task like a pro. No one is better, I’m sure of it. That would be great if the prize wasn’t increased stress caused by a lack of focus and production. For those that need just as much as help in the distraction management department as I do, here are a few ways to take control of your day.
Check Email at Set Intervals
I know you’ve heard this one before, but really, turn off those notifications. All they are doing are spreading your direction to 25 different focuses at any given time. There are 25 new excuses every hour for a procrastinator to put off a project that really needs some attention. Here’s how you SHOULD be interacting with your email. Set a few times throughout the day to check your email. At the beginning and end of your day for sure, and then a few times in between as needed. Put these times in your schedule for the day. Then, give yourself no more than 30 min at each “email checking interval” to respond or create a task on a list for an email that needs further attention.
Turn emails into actions. It can either be responded to immediately or turned into a task item that will be put on your to do list in the order of its priority. You’re not a puppy, stop chasing the butterfly and going down the rabbit hole over every notification that pops up.
Create a Running To Do List
This should be what you’re referencing the moment you sit down at your desk in the morning. What are your tasks for today and for this week? What is the breakdown of priority and importance – what comes first? Now check your email for your allotted time slot. Add new tasks to this list in order of priority and time needed. Check off items as you go to make room for new. Rinse and repeat.
Personal Devices Create Personal Distractions
Now that our devices are a cross of business and personal for the most part, we have to make a bigger effort to separate the two to avoid distractions. Make work time work time and spend the right balance making personal time SOLELY personal so that you feel prepared to dive into work when it’s that time again.
Phone Calls: Let Them Leave a Message
Unless you need to take the call, let it go to voicemail. If it’s truly urgent, get in touch with whoever left the voicemail. Otherwise, use voicemails as an email from someone reaching out. Check them at set intervals and turn them into actions. Do you need to schedule a time to speak to that person in depth? Put it on your to do list to set up a meeting. Schedule all calls so you’re aware of your schedule. Allowing yourself and your business to turn into a call center will weigh down your day with distractions and push important tasks further and further down the list.
Distraction is more prevalent than ever. But it doesn’t have to mean the downfall of the procrastinator kind. Eliminating the distractions in your day means eliminating the constant need to catch up from how far behind you’ve fallen. What are your best distraction management techniques? Comment below to share!