Time Management Tips to Stay Focused & Manage Interruptions & Distractions so You Can Get More Done.
When I asked her if she had a lot of interruptions and distractions during the day, her response was “How did you know?” It turns out, she’s always had a hard time saying no. She’s a people pleaser and when someone interrupts her for help or advice, she feels compelled to help them out at the expense of doing her own work.
I can identify with that. I’m a people-pleaser too. What gives me strength, courage, discipline and willpower is that I know I’m of service to no one unless I prioritize my work first. Then I can be of service to many people. That’s how I’ve grown my business and how I accomplish what I need to get done.
While it’s nice to want to please people, you can accomplish a lot more with your time if you set appropriate boundaries for yourself and protect your time with vigilance.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by too many interruptions and distractions, here are some Time Management Tips to stay focused on your priorities so you can get more done:
1. Prioritize your work first.
If you ask the question, “What if taking the time to do other people’s work wasn’t so important to me,” it opens you up to the possibility of creating better choices for yourself. It helps you learn to simplify and let go of other people’s work you don’t need to be doing.
- If you constantly move your focus off what you’re doing and rush to respond to every request that comes in, then you’re not controlling your time. You’re allowing someone else’s work to control your time.
- If you answer every telephone call that comes in, you’re allowing other people’s work to control how you spend your day.
- If you spend all of your time managing your schedule to answer everyone else’s email and meet everyone else’s priorities, then everyone else gets the benefit of your time and you set yourself up for failure meeting everyone’s goals but your own.
2. Learn to say no.
Failing to say no to others who constantly request a “minute” of your time is a recipe for disaster. If you allow your office to be a revolving door for everyone who wants your time, then no wonder you don’t know where the day goes. It’s no surprise you don’t get as much done as you’d like.
The routine of allowing other people to manage your time is a form of self-sabotage that fills up your time but yield little in the way of results. You allow yourself to be interrupted and distracted from the goals you say are most important to you.
When you allow yourself to become distracted or interrupted, it create a bigger issue, because taking your focus off what you’re doing also interrupts your thought process, the creative process and the flow of energy and work. It takes time to get back to where you left off. In the meantime, you’ve lost your train of thought and wasted valuable time.
3. Set regular hours when you’re working and when you’re not working.
Have a ritual to start and complete your work on a daily basis. This is going to help you more than you realize because it will create a routine for getting your work done.
This is about setting boundaries and structure with your time. If you have messy boundaries, other people won’t respect your time and will feel free to constantly distract and interrupt you. Your work day will spill over into your personal life and you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed.
4. Block out at least two hours every single day to get your most important work done.
Blocking out time for your own work helps you move your own projects and tasks along. During those two hours, don’t schedule other things for that time. Don’t work on email, answering your texts, voicemail or cell phone. Those two hours are your time. It’s your time to get your most important work done and you’ll reach your goals much more quickly.
If you’re overwhelmed by constant interruptions and distractions, you’ve set up a structure that doesn’t support you. It doesn’t support the people you’re supposed to help either. Do your best not to fill up the rest of your day with other people’s work. Fill it with what you need to do.
I usually schedule my blocks of time for the morning. I like to do it first because then I know I’m doing the most important things first. So when the interruptions inevitably show up, I know I’ve accomplished at least something for the day. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m very diligent and some days I give myself more than two hours if I’m working against a deadline.
5. Detach yourself from feeling like a victim who has no power or choice in this.
When you ask the question, “What if taking the time to do other people’s work wasn’t so important to me,” you allow yourself to notice that you have a choice, and that you can create some alternatives for yourself like working together, asking for help, delegating, choosing a different project or task, or determining what the real order of priority is for projects.
You have to give yourself that care and time you need because otherwise you’ll feel like you never get anything done.
If you set up your day with a system that allows you to focus on your own work, you’re going to know you’re doing the right thing because you’re treating your time with respect and integrity. You’re going to feel so good. You’re going to enjoy the progress you make with those two hours you give yourself.
6. When you’re overwhelmed by interruptions and distractions ask yourself: “If I can only get one thing done today, what does it need to be?”
It’s as if you’re suddenly able to clear the slate and give yourself permission to do just one thing. When I ask this question of myself, I’m usually able to get that one thing done and it makes me feel so good.
Interruptions and distractions are an inevitable part of life. If you try putting these Time Management Tips into practice, you’ll be able to manage your time and your productivity with greater ease to stay focused, less overwhelmed and on track.
If these time management tips were helpful, please share this post with your social networks and comment below.