15 Hacks to Stay Focused in a Noisy World #121
- Create a system clarifying how communication works with your team. For example: What are the criteria for text, email, phone calls, in-person/virtual meetings? For our internal team, text is immediate need; email is information only and to be prioritized by the deadline requested in the email or amidst your existing commitments; phone or virtual meetings are for dialog and discussion (or based on geography); and a face-to-face is when we need to solve something, brainstorm, or deal with sensitive topics.
- Set up time blocks in your calendar for activities and stick to them. Group similar activities.
- Automate whatever you can to gain efficiencies with your calendar – some suggestions: Asana, Calendly, Sanebox, Acuity Scheduling or Schedule Once
- Delegate whatever you can – see the Delegate and Elevate™ exercise from EOS
- Touch things only once – whether paper or email – read and act. Are you the person who should be handling this, or can someone else do it?
- Set up a pleasant auto-responder letting people know when you will check email – then follow through and do so. If you don’t, it’s just a stiff arm to people in your world, and they won’t appreciate your quest for efficiency.
- Stop interrupting co-workers. Ask yourself two things before you go shoplift time from them: A) Is this time-sensitive or mission-critical? If so, interrupt. If not, make a list or put it on your issues list for your L10 meeting. B) Ask yourself if there’s another way to get what you need? If so, do that. If not, see #1.
- Block time to think and prioritize and don’t allow yourself to de-prioritize this time (at least 60 mins/week is a great start). We call these Clarity Breaks™ in EOS.
- If you use Outlook, reformat it to open to your calendar, not your email. Only visit email on your terms.
- Ask for an objective for every meeting, call, and interaction you have. It will help everyone prepare and stay on track.
- Conduct standing or walking meetings – they won’t last as long (unless the weather is great)!
- Set a timer on your fitness tracker or Apple Watch if you have one. I set an alarm for 10 minutes prior to every meeting’s end. I can always wrap it up and end on time. This also works well for speaking – you can stay on time when they don’t have the timer for you.
- Begin every day with the 1-2 most important things you need to accomplish. Don’t begin with email or social media. In fact, don’t look at any screen until you accomplish those priorities – this is a game-changer.
- Meet with your family/significant other to plan your week and your priorities for the weekend; it may save crossed wires and missed opportunities.
- Invest in a visual aid to let people know not to interrupt you. If you have a door, it serves as a DND notice. If you don’t, hazard tape or a construction cone can serve as a notice to people that you are focused and don’t want to be interrupted. Leaving a pad of post-its nearby allows people to capture their thoughts without interrupting and leave it for you to prioritize upon return from the DND zone. Limit your time to 90 minutes or less as your productivity will lessen at that time.
That’s the beginning – please add your hacks below in the comments so we can continue to help our community be more effective, and thank you.