Finding Time by Scheduling It
In the olden days, as soon as a fax was received, a secretary would burst into the manager's office and exclaim "you've received a fax". All activity would stop until the fax was addressed.
While we don't act that way when we receive a fax anymore, many of us exhibit this same strange behaviour when we receive an email. We have a compulsion to open the email, then read it. And then we do something about it (interrupting our current work), or we decide to get to it later (and often let it fall through the cracks.)
We spend time scheduling our days (and nights) with meetings, conference calls, client pitches, and the like. Reasonably, we then fill in the time between these events either doing preparation or follow-up. Unfortunately, we can never be as effective as we could be - interruption makes this impossible.
Instead, schedule time well in advance of the event, for preparation and follow-up. This means blocking time in your calendar so that no one can book you. Once you've scheduled this time, then disconnect from everything else: log out of email, log out of instant messaging, turn off your cell phone, and put your office phone on "do not disturb". If you have a door to your office, close it. If your job is filled with interruptions by definition, then choose one hour at a specific time of the day (eg early morning, after the markets close, etc) to do your prep and follow-up. Then disconnect.
This week's action item: We can only find time for career development - or family - or exercise - once we are in control of our time. If you count how often you are forced to change tasks during the day, you will get a sense of how interruptions are affecting you. Schedule one hour for yourself today, and disconnect yourself - you'll be amazed at what happens when you control your schedule - not the other way around.
Make It Happen Tipsheet
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Copyright © 2006 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.
Publication Date: November 28, 2006
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