Question: I have difficulty focusing at work. There seems to be a lot of distraction around me and I am always getting interrupted. I don’t seem to get done in a day what I intend to. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: First of all, get some type of organizer---this could be the old paper and pencil appointment book, a personal data assistant (palm pilot) or my favorite, use MS Outlook on your computer. Then, at the end of the day on Friday or the very beginning of your day on Monday, you must plan out your week and put things you have to do into a certain time frame.
Be sure to schedule in times of crises and emergencies, particularly if your job involves putting out a lot of fires. Make sure to also allow for interruptions that can’t be eliminated. I know you can’t plan ahead with certainty how much time will be needed for emergencies or interruptions but you can use an average of approximately how much time they take in an average work week.
Then, at the end of each work day, I suggest you clean off your desk and make a list of the six most important things you need to accomplish the following day. You can record these on a simple “To Do” list or add them to the “tasks” section of Outlook or write them on an index card. Make sure you have time scheduled into your day to accomplish your “Critical Six”. Then, throughout the day, stick to your schedule. When you didn’t allow enough time to complete a task, leave it and move on anyway. Look for another place to schedule in its conclusion during the week.
Another important thing is to be sure to “refresh”. This is a technique that has proven very helpful to me that Sarano Kelley discusses in his book, The Game. It simply involves taking a minute between tasks to shift your mind into neutral, take some deep breathes and prepare to switch gears. This allows you to tackle the next task with a renewed energy and focus. It can greatly aid in your productivity. Let me know how you make out.
Do you have any other suggestions that could help?