There are more than ever before a huge array of distractions whilst at work, getting in the way of doing the job. Lots of people I know complain of “information overload” but what I think they mean is “overload of potential meaning”. No wonder really, phone calls, fax’s (some people still use them, honestly), e.mail, SMS, MMS, IM, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter…
What you need is a strategy to get back in control:
- A big clean-up. Have a mad day of just getting things done. Run on adrenaline if you have to but strong coffee is good. Be ruthless and just stick to the task. Your work mates will think you mad, no chatting, lots of piles of stuff and bin what you dont need, file what you do!
- Presence of mind. To do the big clean and keep it going you are going to have to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Early morning, tete-a-tete with the mirror is best. Be harsh on yourself and keep it up.
- Inbox – Empty. Make sure before you go home at night that you’ve emptied the inbox. You’ve dealt with or know what you are going to do about stuff. Start the day fresh, every day!
- Be ignorant. You really don’t need to respond instantly to every request, honest you don’t. You are going to have to learn to filter, do the stuff that’s important, the things that really do need doing. The other stuff can wait.
- You will be surprised. The unexpected does happen. It’s mostly dealing with stuff that goes wrong but not always. Sometimes opportunity will come knocking and you bet you want to be ready for that so… build-in a bit of slack time, you’ll need it.
- Get the habit. 7-days and you have a behavior pattern, 30-days and you have a habit. So form good working habits and you wont look back.
- Exercise Control. Only download e.mail and messages when you want them. If you allow them to they will interrupt you. Set you phone message to ask for full contact details and an idea of what the person calling wants – then filter, priorities.
- Delegate. You may delegate already but when you do, stop looking over the shoulder of the person doing the delegated work. Leave them be, and review at agreed events (time, event, outcome).
- Big picture. Always keep your eye on the long-term objectives. Everything you do should be measurable against these goals. Is what you’re doing taking you closer too or further away from these goals?
- Time out. Me time, this is important to clear the mind and refocus, re-energize and refresh. Could be a walk in the park at lunch or it could be a 3-week holiday but have some me time.