Chess&ClockYesterday I was focused on a couple of client projects, some content writing for the rest of the month, and a few webinars I added to the mix. That kind of a day calls for laser focus and staying on point. All day it seemed as though the phone was determined to deter my efforts. It rang, brought me text messages and sounded off with plenty of email notifications, but I won.

Last night while I looked back thinking about my day, the number of calls and text messages that came in really stood out for me and it made me think about something my father once said to me and I had to laugh. What he said was, “Just because the phone rings, doesn’t mean that I have to answer it.” He had made that comment to me when I was about 15 years old after me asking him how he could just sit there, right next to the phone and allow it to continue to ring until someone else answered it, or until the caller hung up. Of course, as a teenager, with her own phone in her bedroom to keep me from missing those “important” calls, I couldn’t possibly relate to his behavior. But now, I see the light.

He was so right, and what a strategic move to employ! People get so caught up in the things that cause distraction and even allow those things to take over and rule their day. If you want to get anything done, you can’t allow things to control or to dictate what you do and when you do it. There are ways of dealing with the interruptions that they bring that will contribute to your productivity and allow you to stay the course. The phone is one of the most popular interruptions that takes people off track any given day. If you’re working on a priority task, that isn’t the time to stop and answer the phone. That’s what voice mail is for. Give yourself permission to let your calls go to voice mail so that you can focus on the task at hand. It’s real easy to do by simply turning the sound or notifications off. Once you’re finished working on that task you can check the voice mail.

Better yet, get strategic and set a regular time to check voice mail and return calls each day. Set that time outside of what I call your Prime Time. Use your Prime Time to focus on the things that require you to be at your best, and save things like phone conversations and email for some point after that time. Doing so will make your day less frustrating and you’ll find that you get a lot more done. I had no idea all those years ago that my dad was teaching me something that would really make sense to me and would be advice that I would pass along to my clients. Just one of the many things I learned from him while he graced this planet with his presence.