Life Area: Professional and Personal
Four Productivity Tips To Avoid Distractions
I’m prompted to write this blog post as I just got off the phone with a business coaching client who was sharing with me some of the challenges he’s facing running a successful startup. I’m sure you too will relate:
Other than the usual, like financing, people, systems, etc., one of his greatest challenges was the overwhelming amount of tasks that compete for his time and attention. Always being in “urgent” mode didn’t allow him or his business partner to focus on the “important” as in the Eisenhower Decision Matrix popularized in the Stephen Covey classic book First Things First.
I shared with my client some of the productivity “hacks” I use when coaching executives to overcome distractions and achieve the important tasks. Here are my recommendations to help stay focused and feel more accomplished:
- Block off time to accomplish your goals.
Use your Master Calendar, Personal Strategic Plan (PSP) and your Evernote Master Task List (and other FREE resources from my Resources page) to identify your long-term goals (1-5 years), mid-term goals (6-12 months) and short-term goals (30-120 days). Move your high-priority items to your Weekly Task List, and then pick your Top 3 for the day, the important activities you want to accomplish, emails that need attention or any other task you don’t want to be distracted from. I recommend that you take a two-hour block of time, say from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Place a note on your office door that advises your team not to interrupt unless it’s a dire emergency. Try to repeat this habit at the same time each day. Over time, you will see how much you were able to accomplish by staying focused. Have weekly team meetings to update everyone on the goals, as this enhances transparency and accountability.
- Practice mindfulness.
Some people have discovered that mindfulness helps them think clearer and without interruption, and stay calmer. Mindfulness can be achieved through meditation. Focus on breathing in and out and not letting your mind wander. If you find that your mind has wandered, just go back to focusing on your breaths. A great idea would be to start those two-hour blocks from Tip No. 1 with 10-20 minutes of mindfulness. Check out my FREE 7-Day Mindfulness Meditation Audio Series which you can find by clicking [here].
- Break up your day into blocks.
Many experts have noted that you’re better able to concentrate in spans of 90 minutes, after which, you should take a break. You might use the first part of the day to sort and answer your emails, then the next block to focus on your Top 3 or other items. Between each block, you can decide what’s important and what’s not. Resist the urge for distractions during these blocks of time. By doing this day in day out, you and your team will accomplish a great deal.
- Encourage employees to solve problems on their own.
Incidentally, most small business owners and managers tell me that questions from employees can be disruptive. Too often, it takes them a long time to reply, especially if it’s a sticky question. This could only further hinder productivity. My hack is to always ask the employee what they think the answer is or ask them to think of three solutions to the problem. Have them share with you the solution they would go with and why. Or if you aren’t able to chat right away, tell them you’ll circle back with them in 48 hours. If they don’t hear from you by then, they’re free to move forward with their solution. This way, employees not only get used to boundaries and time blocks, but they get into the habit of problem-solving on their own rather than finding easy answers to questions. Obviously, this is something that needs to be agreed on up front, but it works wonders.
If you would like to use me as a sounding board and business resource as your Coach to help you Grow Your Life and Build Your Business, check out my Coaching page or my Business Advisory page and contact me to set up a FREE initial consultation to determine fit.
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I am a Success Strategist and Master Coach. I provide transformational coaching and training for individuals and organizations to help you Grow Your Life and Build Your Business by getting clear and focused on what you want, why you want it, and how to create it. Learn more about me at SuccessSeriesLLC.com.
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