Top 10 tips to manage time and distractions better in the new year
Since lockdown, whilst we are more understanding about distractions like the doorbell or the dog barking, we are still reluctant to shut out the noise of texts, WhatsApp messages and social media.
These are my top 10 new year tips for reducing distractions and managing time more effectively.
- For more focused time to meet deadlines use the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25 or 50 minutes. Then take a break or do another task for 5 or 10 minutes. Then repeat. Read more here.
- Turn your phone off, put it on silent or face-down so you can’t see the screen. If that doesn’t work, put it in another room so you have to get up to check it.
- Turn off your emails for set periods of time. There are apps to help with this. Boomerang is one that allows you to schedule specific times when your emails will be held back during the day. Like a Do Not Disturb for emails.
- Use delayed emails. If you don’t want to get a reply straight away or want to get some work done at an unsociable hour, it is useful to use the delayed email option in Microsoft Office.
- Stop accepting meetings during certain times of the day or days in the week. Have set times that you don’t allow any meetings, so you have time to do the work you want to get done. Schedule this in your diary and stick to it. Better yet, if you can avoid the meeting altogether, all the better.
- Schedule certain types of tasks to be completed in the same time slot. For example, booking appointments can be done between 4 and 5 pm.
- Delegate. It’s a skill that takes time and practice to master. But you must want to delegate, you need to know what to delegate and who to delegate to. To help with this I’ve developed the Three Column Technique. Read more here or watch the video here.
- Divert your phone. I recommend a professional phone answering service that you can use on a pay as you go basis and turn on and off as you need to. It’s important to choose a reputable company like this so your callers get a competent call handler without knowing it’s a call handler. Do your research for the best ones around. To save you time I highly recommend Jam. Learn more here.
- Streamline your to-do list. Research says we only cross off three things on to-do lists in a day. So instead of rewriting the whole list daily, at the end of each day write just three things to do for the next day. This reduces stress from guilt and increases our sense of achievement. Plus, it saves time writing out endlessly long to-do lists.
- Work-life blend. Replacing the word ‘balance’ with ‘blend’ shatters the implication that our work or personal life suffers when we put more effort into one or the other. We know that our work and life is more of a blend. Some days we work harder and some days we play harder. We can enjoy both taking personal time and working hard. It doesn’t need to come at the expense of feeling guilty.
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