Have you heard the one about the Interrupting Cow?

Last week we discussed some of your big goals.  If you want to make headway on these goals, you need, you guessed it- time!  And not just five minutes here and there; you need consistent blocks in your schedule dedicated to a big goal in order to make progress.  This is called, “time blocking.”

The first step in starting to block your time is to manage your external interruptions, which we will discuss over the next few weeks. Today we will start the conversation by talking about how to manage “them”.

Who is/are “them”?   “Them” can take many shapes and forms, but a common form is the, “I just need a minute of your time…” “them” who quickly drains your morning hours.  Don’t even THINK about closing your door.  A closed door means nothing to them.  They might be a client, they might be a colleague, they might even be a boss, regardless of their position they are still stealing your valuable time.

There are two ways to deal with “them”- don’t invite them and know where the emergency exit is!

Don’t Invite Distractions
(Note-  There is something said for being accessible, so keep that in mind as well as you read the following suggestions).

  • Look busy.
  • Close your door (note- Not everyone seems to understand this means you would prefer no distractions.  Adding a sign may help).
  • Fill your chairs!
  • Position your workspace appropriately.  If you face the door, you are inviting distractions.
  • Inform others you don’t want to be disturbed.  Sometimes it really is as easy as being clear about your workplace needs.
  • GO AWAY!  The library, the coffee shop…wherever you need to go to do your best work.
  • For extra credit, try out Focus At Will for music designed to increase your productivity just by listening.  Also try Focus Music and Brain.fm.

Know Where the Emergency Exits Are
(Sometimes you just have to escape).

  • Set time limits.  Be up front that you only have five (ten, fifteen, etc.) minutes to spare.
  • Stand up.
  • Find an excuse to leave your desk (e.g. make a copy; deliver something to a co-worker, etc.)
  • Initiate the end of the distraction/appointments.  “I hate to cut this short but I have to (walk my llama? go catch pokemon?) can we set an appointment for next week?
  • Have another colleague call you. (Don’t be ashamed to pre-arrange a lifeline when necessary).
  • LEAVE!

The bottomline is- don’t make it easy for others to distract you and plan ahead for your emergency exit.

And now, for those of you who have been patiently reading and waiting for it…


Join me next week as talk about using effective communication strategies to better manage our time!

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