Three Steps To Reduce Distractions At Work

You start your workday with the best of intentions. Maybe you plan to dig into an important task that requires a significant portion of your day. Perhaps you intend to sit down with members of your sales team and discuss an upcoming campaign. Or maybe you plan to use your day to gain traction on a project that keeps getting put off.

Whatever goal or task you have in mind, you'll never complete it if you continue to get distracted throughout your day. Rebecca Zucker, a career and executive coach who co-founded Next Step Partners, says it's human to get sidetracked occasionally. However, this doesn't mean it's okay to let distraction keep you from accomplishing what you need to get done.

If you find yourself often getting derailed by distractions at work, keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today. We share Zucker's key practices for taking a responsible mindset and making yourself indistractable at work.

1. Timebox your work. Timeboxing is effectively making (and keeping) a meeting with yourself. Pick a task, when to do it, determine for how long and block it on your calendar. Not only is timeboxing one of the most effective productivity tools, but it gives you a greater sense of control, says Zucker. When you timebox your activities, you are by definition, single-tasking versus multi-tasking. The former is far more productive, notes Zucker.

2. Schedule sync with your boss to set priorities. Zucker often sees her coaching clients block out time to focus on something important only to have their co-workers — their boss or peers—book over it. To address this, try sitting down with your boss for 15 minutes at the beginning of each week and say, "Here's my calendar for the week. Here's how I plan to spend my time, and here's the stuff I won't get to on this other list." This way, your boss will either agree with what you've planned, or help you reprioritize.

3. Recalibrate your responsiveness to email. Zucker reminds leaders that their work product ends up suffering when they continuously check email throughout the day. She says email is much more efficient when you timebox it, as with other focused work. This could be 10 minutes every hour, on the hour, or at other specified times of the day. It's really up to you. Being in a client service business, you can balance being reasonably responsive and not get distracted by email by labeling emails based on when they need a reply. Each email should only be touched two times. If it is truly urgent then go ahead and reply. Everything else will either need a reply today (about 20% of emails), this week or never (in which case, you should delete it).

Distractions happen. The key lies in learning how to block them before they overtake your day. Consider Zucker's advice and timebox your tasks, sync up with your boss and key team members and take a smart approach to your email. You'll be well on your way to a more productive workday.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Rebecca Zucker is a career and executive coach who co-founded Next Step Partners, a leadership development firm. Prior to her coaching career, Zucker served as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and held leadership positions at Disney Consumer Products.

filed under March 2020
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