With emails, texts, social media notifications, and the general looming sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) we experience when we’re away from our phones, our workday is riddled with interruptions and our productivity takes a big hit.
It’s ironic in this digital age, when we have so many productivity tools at our fingertips, we’re so bombarded with distractions that some days it feels like we can’t accomplish anything at all.
The following six tips will help you organize your tasks and manage the distractions you have to deal with on a daily basis.
- Define (and enforce) office hours. One challenge most entrepreneurs experience—especially those of us who work in the online space—is our workday often has no firm start and end. Decide on firm office hours and create boundaries so you stay within those parameters. So, if you decide on a Monday through Friday, 9-5 structure, don’t be answering emails at 6am. You’ll need to move things around now and then, because that’s the nature of being self-employed, but just clearly stating your office hours is enough to force yourself to respect your own time within that window. Productivity doesn't just happen ... take control of your time and manage your distractions.
- Make a daily task list. Start your day by making a list of the five or six key tasks you absolutely need to get done that day. Any more tasks than that and you can become overwhelmed at the thought of everything on your list. I work best with an online to-do list like Todoist. If you’re one who does better with written lists, I recommend making your list with old fashioned pen and paper. Underline the most pressing task you need to deal with each day so if you accomplish nothing else but that one item, you’ll consider it a good day. I know my productivity increased dramatically when I started making, and following, my task list.
- Circle the task you’re working on. One trick to help you to get back into your productive zone, even if you’re interrupted by a phone call or someone at the door, is to always use a pencil to circle the task you’re working on at the moment. When you finish the task, erase the circle and move on to the next task.
- Try the 45/15 rule. If you Google the 45/15 rule for productivity, you’ll come up with a variety of ways you can split each working hour into two parts to help with your focus. The general idea is to use the first 45 minutes of each hour working on a specific task (or tasks if they are small ones) and then use the last 15 minutes of the hour checking email, taking a break, hopping on social media, or returning phone calls.
- Set limits on your social networking. If you use an iPhone, you can have your phone cut you off social networking when you’ve reached your own pre-determined limit for the day. You can also schedule time away from the screen using the downtime option. Just look for “Screen Time” in your settings. Other ideas would be to remove social networking apps from your phone all together, or, you could try turning off your phone during your focused task time. Whatever way you choose to do it, make an effort to reduce the amount of time you spend scrolling mindlessly across social media sites without setting a time limit.
- Batch tasks. Consider setting aside days or parts of days for grouped activities so your brain doesn’t have to switch back and forth between types of tasks. For instance, maybe you assign one day for administrative tasks and marketing, another day for work with a specific client, another day on meetings and phone calls, etc. Some people find this a helpful way to conserve valuable brain power!
Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful in managing the distractions most business owners have to deal with on a daily basis. If you have more tips to share, please leave a comment and tell us what you’ve got!
In business since 1991, Terry Green is the founder/CEO/President of BizEase Support Solutions, an American-based, online marketing support company comprised of a team of talented professionals from around North America. BizEase excels at providing speakers and business coaches worldwide with seamless online marketing solutions, from setting up ecommerce solutions, membership sites, web design and maintenance, to writing blog posts and managing Social Media and PR campaigns. BizEase clients (who span five continents) take great joy in allowing the BizEase team to take care of the details so they can get back to doing what they do best! Click here to get our bi-weekly tips ezine delivered to your inbox every other Friday, with tips on plugins, apps, and tools to make you more productive today!