Tag Archive: distractions

ClocksandHourglassBeing The Time Wielder, I’m always looking at how people do things and I’ve seen what the most productive people are in the habit of doing. I’m going to share 5 of those things with you here in this post.

First and foremost, productive people are early risers. These folks can get more done before the work day begins than most people. They seize their day. That early morning time is filled with meditation, exercise, some plan and strategize and some even start working on their top priority. Each of these contribute to their overall productivity and their ability to get things done.

Highly productive people are focused. Because they know their priorities they’re not struggling to figure out what should get their time or what to work on first. They know what matters most. One thing at a time it is easier to manage and complete to a good standard, instead of spreading your efforts over multiple things. Think about hitting a target. If you focus on 5 different points on the target, you aren’t going to hit anything. Prioritize your projects so that you automatically know the priority of the tasks related to each.

Productive people know how to block out the distractions and the interruptions. Setting periods of time during the day when you blocking out everything else works. You don’t have to block things and people out all day every day, but trust me, if you know when and how to do it, it will contribute to ending the day with things completed.

Manage your meetings well. Have your rules about meetings. One of mine is that there must be an agenda, doesn’t have to be written, but I have to know the purpose. I also have to know how long it’s supposed to last. Here’s a secret for you…people don’t always need the amount of time they ask for. A lot of time gets wasted around meetings. Having and sticking to your rules creates a more productive flow, allowing more things to be handled.

This next one is a big one…having rituals or systems in place. Look at the things that you do on a regular basis and find ways to automate the process. Create systems that will support you. First of all, create your time management system. Simply put, a system has three components: tools, processes and people. Determine which tools you need, document the processes and determine who is going to use the tools you designate or perform the tasks that the tools can’t. Set up your systems so that your business can run like a well-oiled machine.

There you have it, 5 things that the most highly productive people do to get it all done. Incorporate them one at a time and you’ll see how well they work to make you more productive.


Break; pause; disruption; intermission; interlude; disturbance; intrusion; stoppage; interval.  No matter what you call it, it’s an interruption.   We all are interrupted throughout the course of our workday, by people and by things that may not necessarily always be in our control.  No matter what the interruption is or how many of them we encounter during our day, the truth of the matter is that if you want to have a very productive day, you have to get a handle on managing those interruptions.   Get ahead of the game and start by preventing interruptions before they occur.

When you control interruptions and eliminate distractions in your day, you have more time to work on the things that matter.  Look at the things that keep interrupting your day or keep you from working on what matters most.  What are the things that interrupt you the most and why? What’s interrupting you right now?  What can you do to put a stop to that distraction?

If you can’t answer this question right away, keep track over the period of one week of what is interrupting you and the reason for each interruption.  Also make a note of how much time you spend on each distraction.  At the end of the week, add up the accumulated time spent on the distractions. As you review your list, ask yourself what you can do to stop the various distractions.

One common interruption is the telephone.  It may not always be possible to not take phone calls or answer the phone, but there are times that it’s possible to have someone take messages, let the calls go to voice mail or place the phone on do not disturb and return calls later in the day.  This is especially helpful when you’re working on one of your top priority items.  You can keep working and know that you can still address the needs of those on the other end of the phone, just not right at that time.

Coworkers present another common interruption.  It might be that they come to your workspace or office because they need something from you.  To cut down on those interruptions, change your habits.  When someone enters your space, ask them what they need and let them know that if it’s something that will only take a few minutes, you can stop and help them right then; if it’s going to take longer, find out what it is that they need and set a time to talk to them or to get them what they need a little later in the day.  This helps keep you on track with your top priorities and keeps your day flowing.

Others may stop by because they want to chat about their weekend or something that happened.  It’s easy to get caught up in it, but it costs you precious time and brings your productivity level down.  If you have an extra chair in your office and you don’t want to remove it, try placing a personal item such as your briefcase or coat in it to stop people from coming in and sitting down.  If they have to stand, they may be inclined to spend less time in your office, but once they sit down, they are likely to spend more time visiting.  People are less likely to move personal items to sit down.

If you have an office, close the door occasionally to help curb interruptions.  For example, I used to do payroll at a job that I had some time ago, which is something where there was no room for error.  The problem was that I had multiple interruptions.  My remedy was to close my office door from the time I started the payroll process until I finished and then deal with the requests that people had after that.

These may seem like simple actions to take, but they are quite effective.  You develop new habits around interruptions and begin to learn how to handle them effectively and others begin to respect your time.  You will be surprised at how much these simple things can help increase your productivity level.

So what did you see when you took that long look at your home and work life?  Are you spending the majority of your time working or putting off the things that need to get done?  If you’re working, what exactly are you working on and are those things relevant to your overall goals?  If things aren’t getting done, it’s time to look at your behavior to tell what’s really going on.  Start by keeping a time log and enter everything that you do on a daily basis.  At the end of each day look back to see how much time you actually spent on work and how much of it was spent on distractions.

If you’re spending time on distractions, what’s distracting you?  It might be something else that needs to get done.  If this is the case, look at the priorities and schedule appropriate time to get it done, commit to it and get it off your to-do list.

As I said before, the big question is, what is procrastination really costing you?  Looking at your time log, make note of the amount of time that you spent on distractions.  Multiply that amount of time by your hourly rate.  The result is just the cost for that amount of time.  Multiply that by the additional time that you’ve spent on distractions or on procrastinating and you’ll see what it’s really costing you.  Procrastination will not only cost you precious time, it will cost you monetarily.  You could be paying a pretty big cost for putting things off.

If procrastination is a big problem for you, I encourage you to check out my 12-week procrastination program.  Click here for details.

Seriously, we all procrastinate at some point in time on something and we’re all familiar with this scenario:  You put off doing something and probably have absolutely no idea of how long it takes to do the task you’re putting off.  You can end up living in chaos simply because you’re putting off something that will take you just a short time to do.  Are you one of those people who shuffle through papers?  If so, you probably spend more time shuffling through them each day than it would take for you to sort through them one final time and toss, file or process what’s there in the pile.

Research shows that people spend most of their time and effort working on activities that have nothing to do with the success of their projects.  Procrastination is the biggest reason people fail to reach their goals. It is the #1 cause of stress.  Research also shows us that stress is caused by leaving too many things undone, which is why some habitual procrastinators always complain about chronic fatigue.  Putting things off creates enormous stress in our lives, which manifests as fatigue.

Right now, take a long look at your home and work life.  Where are you spending the majority of your time?  Are you working on things that are relevant to the big picture, or are you procrastinating and spending more time on distractions.  If you’re spending time on distractions, what is it that’s distracting you and why and, the big question is, what is it really costing you?  What’s the bottom line cost of putting it off?

Being a time management coach I’ve seen many people challenged with many things over the years when it comes to managing their time.  For some it’s the distracting, disorganized environment that makes things challenging; some don’t know their personal energy cycles, or what I call their “prime time” so they work against their grain.  Others don’t spend enough time on their top priorities so the important things aren’t getting done, and there are those who get caught up in the email vortex completely distracted from the tasks at hand.  Still there are others who do things without thinking and planning, and those who don’t handle interruptions effectively and some who are busy doing nothing all day.

Believe it or not, I could go on since there are so many things that can challenge individuals with managing their time, but these are the repeat offenders.  If you find it challenging to manage your time, I’m guessing that you find yourself somewhere in one or maybe more of the above situations.  I’m curious to know what challenges you have.  If I’ve described your situation or if I didn’t mention your time management challenge, take a moment to reply to this post to let me know where you’re most challenged when it comes to managing your time.

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