Have you ever had one of those days where 5:00 p.m. (or whatever time you “officially” end your work day) rolls around and you review the day only to realize that you haven’t accomplished very much because of the constant interruption from phone calls, and that nagging desire to check your email every five minutes? I certainly have. I will be the first to admit that it is almost impossible for me to let phone calls go to voice mail, or ignore that little “ding” when an email hits my inbox.
If this sounds like you, then the following article by Dina Giolitto, copywriting consultant and ghostwriter, is a must read. Dina shares 7 great tips that you (and me!) can implement in your business so you can start minimizing interruptions while maximizing productivity.
Please Step Away from My Desk: How to Minimize Interruptions While Maximizing Your Productivity
By Dina Giolitto
If you thought interruptions were a nuisance in the corporate world, ha ha! Wait ’til you start running your own small business. With the fate of your company riding on your shoulders, wasted time is by far your biggest enemy. Learn how to nip those productivity-busters in the bud while making a beeline for your goals.
1. Use voicemail to your advantage.
If you’re in the throes of mapping out your business strategy and the phone rings, do you pick it up? If so, break the habit right now. Voicemail exists for your convenience. If you don’t answer the phone, the person will leave a message. Call them back when you’re in a better frame of mind for productive conversation.
2. Assure your colleagues that you WILL get back to them.
If you get many hangups calls, your voicemail probably isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to. In your outgoing message, state your name and company name in a bright and professional tone, and instruct the caller to Leave a Detailed Message. Do the same with your email autoresponse, and reassure your prospects that you will respond to their inquiry in a timely fashion.
3. Designate phone time.
Give your colleagues and prospects windows of time in which they can reach you. Set aside specific time slots for your phone calls. Clarify via email what the nature of the call will be, and then envision in your mind how the talk will go and the points you plan to bring up.
4. Keep client call time to a minimum.
You will encounter many people in this lifetime who LOVE to talk. Yes, they may be great people with great advice. But if the call is dragging on endlessly, or what’s being discussed has no relevance to the work you’re doing together, you must get them to shut up. Of course, be tactful as possible… make your key points and wrap it up. In extreme cases, a white lie may be necessary: “Sorry, I have another call scheduled. Let’s resume this discussion on email.”
5. Limit your use of Instant Messenger.
While Instant Messaging programs can be handy for a back-and-forth discussion, they can also do a great job of breaking your concentration and your stride. If you’ve set your mind to a task, shut off Instant Messenger. The idea is to be in control of your time, instead of letting others control it for you.
6. Designate email check and response time.
Type, type, type. “You’ve got mail.” Type, type type. “You’ve got mail.” Yes, email can eat away at your precious minutes hours, days weeks… if you let it. The solution: don’t let it! Email is like TV commercials; it interrupts your regularly scheduled program. Set aside specific hours of the day in which you send and reply to email. Keep your email program off for the rest of the time.
7. Claim your territory.
If you work in an office with other people, you probably know that guy – the Interrupter. Sure, he may be bringing up some great points (or he may not), but he’s another one who’s stealing your time. Ways to discourage him: Shut your door. Remove empty chairs from your office, so folks won’t be tempted to take a seat and start gabbing. Maintain “closed” body language, i.e. if interrupted, do not turn your body from the task in focus. Or you can simply say, “I have a deadline. Let’s plan to talk at around 4.”
Keeping interruptions and distractions to a minimum is every business owner’s greatest challenge. The best way to take control of your time is to align yourself with your mission and stay focused!
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
Dina Giolitto is a copywriting consultant and ghostwriter with 10 years of experience writing corporate print materials and web content. Trust her with your next e-book, article series or web project, and make a lasting impression on your audience of information-hungry prospects. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for more information.
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