The more productive you are at work, the more time you’ll have to pursue personal interests and take care of your other responsibilities. Nothing cuts into productivity like on-the-job distractions. Here’s how to block them out.

  • Take control of your email. A major consultant reports the average person spends 28% of the workweek reading, deleting, sorting, and sending emails. Yes, some emails need immediate response—“Can you come to the boss’s office right now?” But for most emails, it’s OK to respond in a few hours. Shooting back immediate responses limits your productivity big time. Instead, set aside specific times to check emails.
  • Don’t be a slave to your phone. If you have a smart phone, apply the above email rules—plus, don’t answer a call or a text unless you’re expecting one. You can check caller ID and answer if you’re worried about an emergency or a time-critical event. It’s best to have a land line in your workspace and tell clients and family to call that number if they really need to reach you immediately.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Many think multitasking is virtuous, when in fact it’s impossible. We actually only do one thing at a time, although we can switch back and forth between tasks pretty rapidly. Problem is, tiny interruptions usually lead to other tiny interruptions. What’s worse, once you’ve been pulled away from your primary task, it takes time to get back into it. So finish your current project, then tackle the small stuff.
  • Line up your meetings. When possible, schedule multiple meetings back-to-back. Thirty to sixty minute gaps between meetings don’t give you enough time to accomplish anything important.
  • Schedule down time. Taking breaks is important. One study found that the most productive workers spent 52 minutes working followed by 17 minutes of rest. When doing big tasks, brief mental breaks actually help you stay focused and undistracted!
  • Get away from it all. Remove yourself from the sources of distraction. Book a conference room to work in. Or come in at 7 and work distraction-free for two hours before the day really begins.

Here’s to your success boosting your productivity by blocking those distractions, as you put together your best year ever… Enjoy a great month!

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