The more successful we become, the more likely we will get distracted by other people and priorities. Every effective leader learns how to manage distractions so they can be more productive. Lynn Coffman and Michael Valentine from Coffman Valentine & Associates bring their expertise to help us discover 10 things we can do to become more productive.
Guests: Lynn Coffman & Michael Valentine
Coffman Valentine & Associates
To a knowledge worker, productivity means effectiveness. It’s time to shed the idea that creative, innovative, and evolving work fits neatly into a tightly controlled assembly lined approach. Today’s work is collaborative, often iterative and needs coordination in real time in order to meet the demands of the market. It is fast paced, ever evolving and 24/7/365. Now it’s about doing the right work at the right time in the best way. Are you overwhelmed yet?
With so many things pulling you in multiple and competing directions, it is critical to develop focus. It’s easier said than done, but here are 10 practical ways to eliminate distractions and really focus on getting the outcomes your business and you must deliver.
- Turn off self-interrupting technologies. Silence the ding of email/text/IM/Social media notifications.
- Corral your communications. Email is not the only communication channel in town. Know what channels are available to you and use the best tool for the job. For example, email is great for handing off information that is not time sensitive. A phone call is better for developing a relationship and understanding. A live meeting may be better for decision making and consensus building.
- Use space as a tool. Everyone needs a place to do focus work. Close your office door. Go to another location – on or off- site. In an open office environment, put on headphones to indicate you are not to be disturbed.
- Close loops. Once you start a task, take it through to a natural conclusion. If you open an email, read it, decide what to do with it and do it. If a project is closed, write the after action report and put all papers back into the file and file it. If you make a promise to someone, write it down and note on your calendar when to follow up.
- Honor commitments to yourself, as much as you honor them with others. Block the time. After all, they pay you to work. Schedule your work first and then allow others to schedule work with you.
- Know where you are at all times. Use lists, calendars, spreadsheets or other thinking tools to know what work you (or your group) need to do. It is critical for balancing workload to be able to see both the short term and the long term view of your work commitments at any moment.
- Multi-tasking is a myth. You may be able to do it, but it will take you 30–100% more time. It lowers quality of work, speed of delivery, and may be dangerous.
- Build quiet time and play into your day. After all, knowledge workers are paid to think. Reflect, absorb, and solve problems. If you are mentally tired, take a break!
- Roll with the punches. Work is messy. It never goes exactly to plan. Change your expectations to meet reality. Know how to stop, start, and redirect tasks to keep focus and reach goals.
- Sharpen your skills saw. Technologies are constantly evolving. Schedule the time to learn new ways of working.
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