To be productive and focused you need know where you are at today. What is working? What can be improved? Often times we get to the end of our work day and realize we have accomplished very little of what we set out to do.
Clarity and productivity can be gained by tracking what you currently do each day. Start by monitoring 30 minute segments for two consecutive work days keeping a journal of how you spent each time-block. For example, from 7:00 to 7:30 a.m. your entry might read: Commuted to work, checked and responded to email on mobile phone.
Many people may be surprised at where their time is being spent. They may not realize how much is allocated to checking their emails or returning phone calls. Once you're clear about where you are, you can begin to focus on where you want to be. With your journal in hand, identify tasks or activities you can do differently or streamline. For example, perhaps you realize that you are returning phone calls throughout the day and can save some time by returning the calls during one time slot late morning and another time slot late afternoon. Or perhaps you check your email throughout the day when it would be better to have dedicated times for checking it. Make adjustments. Compare the new results against your baseline. Are you getting closer to the productivity and results you desire? If yes, continue. If not, readjust with tracking and re-evaluating.
Ever notice how when you are typing an email on your mobile phone, you usually stay on task? You may get mobile alerts, new text messages or phone calls coming in. Yet, we tend to ignore them while typing an email on a mobile device. We are able to stay focused and block out any distractions. This is typically because when emailing on a mobile device we have a “start to finish” mentality. The mental justification is “I just need to send this email real quick.” Therefore, any new distractions that come in are easily ignored.
When sitting at an office desk typing on the computer, taking a phone call or responding to a text is mentally justified because we tend to look at the entire day at one time. A full 8 hours seems like a long time to accomplish a simple task. Therefore, we are more inclined to drop that task in order to take a phone call
One way to overcome this mentality is by setting a timer. Setting the timer for 15 minutes gives the same mental feeling as typing an email on a mobile phone. With a timer, it is much easier to ignore the phone or any other distractions that come through your office, because you have allotted the next 15 minutes to focus on one topic. With only 15 minutes until the timer goes off, it is more easy to justify that the distractions can wait for that amount of time. If you are not finished with your project when the timer goes off, set the timer for another 15 minutes. This easy method helps you reduce interruptions and focus on the tasks at hand. At the end of the day, you will have a much stronger sense of accomplishment and productivity.