Don’t you just hate it when you start the day with the best intentions only to realize at 5 o’clock that you got nothing on your list done thanks to countless interruptions?
It starts innocently enough – a simple phone call that turns into a half-hour discussion, a brief scan through your inbox that translates into 2 hours of email management or a quick social check-in that turns into a social media marathon.
The technical term is “productivity interruptus”, defined as the constant starting and stopping of tasks to respond to the litany of interruptions. The key to avoiding productivity interruptus and regaining control of your time is using technology to manage unwanted interruptions.
Track Your Time – Even if you don’t charge for your time on an hourly basis, it’s important to build awareness of how you spend your time on a daily basis. It’s the only way to get control of your time. For example, you may discover that those ‘quick’ telephone calls are eating up half your day or that social media represents an irresistible time trap.
Create a time log worksheet and record how you spend your time on an hour-by-hour basis or use an app, like Hours Tracker, to clock in and out of activities. Both will show you exactly how you are using your time, allowing you avoid potential time suckers and focus on increasing your productive work time.
Avoid Unwanted Interruptions – The temptation to answer the telephone is powerful. The thinking is that if you don’t answer this call RIGHT NOW, the potential opportunity that could be on the other end will be missed. It rarely ever happens this way.
Consider putting your office telephone on silent or use the Do Not Disturb function, if it’s available. VOIP systems offer a lot of unique features that allow you to manage your calls. For example, Google Voice lets you screen calls by listening in to the voicemail message as it’s being recorded, allowing you to jump in if it’s important.
Centralize Communication – Sometimes what takes us off task is those quick conversations with team members that turn into lengthy discussions when all you really needed was a status update.
That’s where using technology to communicate can save you a lot of time. Instead of calling in for updates or cluttering up your inbox with extended email threads, you can centralize project reporting using Wrike.com.
Schedule Social – Social media is another potential time void. It’s easy to get caught up in the conversation and before you know it, an hour or two has gone by. The best way to get your social media under control is to schedule content in advance.
Tools like Hootsuite make scheduling your social media extremely easy. All you need to do is click SCHEDULE to set the date and time or upload a CSV file. Don’t use it as a substitute for engaging, but as a way to schedule your basic activity. That way you can focus on interacting during your 15-minute power sessions.