Taking control of your time requires managing that most difficult of obstacles – interruptions. Whether you work in a cubicle, a wide open-concept office space, the corner office, or in a home office, being interrupted is a fact of today’s distraction-filled life. Some settings lend themselves to naturally to interruptions, such as an open office space. More likely right now – your dining room table at home! But interruptions can derail your focus even in the most solitary of environments. They come in both digital and human form. The constant dings and pings of texts, email notifications and voice mails, phone calls, human conversations and requests (“can I just run one thing by you?” or “Mom? Mom? Mom?”) are all regular offenders and can interfere even with those who are singularly focused on plowing through their daily to-do list.
Digital interruptions allow for more control than human ones. Turn off the audible notifications for emails, texts and voice mails. Shut down the visual notifications that slide across your computer screen to alert you to an incoming email. Establish specific periods of the day to answer emails, texts and voice mails – perhaps an hour before lunch, and an hour before the end of the day. Utilize email features like Gmail’s Boomerang “Inbox Pause” to hold emails out of your inbox until a designated time. All of those aural and visual distractions take you out of your game, even if just for a few seconds, and interfere with your ability to establish a state of flow – where you’re fully focused and immersed in what you’re working on. Set up an auto-reply on your email letting people know that you will be responding at specific times of the day so you can feel reassured that people are being acknowledged and informed that you will get back to them. With just a few simple steps, you can immediately eliminate a good chunk of the stuff that interferes with your focus and steals precious moments from your day!