Have you noticed that on a regular basis you’re not completing your ‘to do’ list? Do you frequently ponder how the hours in your day just slip away?
If you’re like many business owners, you’ve probably read numerous articles on productivity and time management. The standard advice is to allot a certain number of hours each day to work without distraction. It’s undeniably good advice, but it can be incredibly hard to follow when you also need to check email, take calls and keep up-to-date on Facebook.
It’s been written many times that the average office worker is distracted every three minutes by a phone call, instant message or email. This is compounded by the fact that it takes more than twice as many minutes to refocus and return to productivity after each interruption. For business owners, these distractions are more than just nuisances – they can have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Is there a way to balance the demands of customers and colleagues while also finding the time to actually accomplish work? While it’s undoubtedly difficult to stop the barrage of interruptions, there are ways to reduce them and minimize their ability to negatively affect your productivity.
Delete PC Distractions
Computers can be surprisingly disruptive to productivity. Email and instant message pop-ups, software update notifications and security alerts can appear on your screen with amazing frequency, and all have the ability to cause you to lose your train of thought. With each notice, you lose time.
Although it’s nearly impossible to turn off every pop-up or message, they can be reduced significantly. Instead of receiving constant notification of incoming emails, turn off the preview functions and check for incoming messages on a slightly less frequent basis. Turn on your instant message application only when you need to chat with someone. And most security products give you the option to automatically update without asking for your approval in a pop-up window.
Manage Incoming Calls
Sometimes it’s impossible to get work done when the phone is constantly ringing. A flexible call screening solution that enables you to accept, reject or send calls to voicemail is essential for reducing distractions when you need to be focused on your tasks at hand. With a solution such as RingCentral’s Business Call Screening Service, you can temporary block callers by caller ID, phone number or area code and limit calls to only those you need to receive. You can also permanently block calls from telemarketers and others who contribute to lost productivity.
Restrict Your Real-Time Data
It’s very easy to underestimate the time spent perusing real-time data – everything from your blog’s analytics to your stock market portfolio can easily become online obsessions. Repetitive checking of this information can eat up hours every day without you even realizing it.
Sure, having real-time data at your fingertips is wonderful, but the key to not letting it turn into a major distraction is to restrict it to a block of time each day. By reducing a habit of reviewing streaming data, you might be amazed at your increased productivity.
No, you’re probably not going to be able to control all of the interruptions during your workday, but it’s up to you to decide how you respond to them. With a little strategic planning and guidelines for controlling distractions, you’ll probably discover that you have a little extra time to complete that “to do” list and maybe even reflect on your success.