Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar: you start your day intending to get a few important things done before noon. After that you should have time to work on a new initiative that is sure to impress your boss. Before that, however, you also have a new batch of emails to review, plus you just got a few new urgent requests. Then your boss calls and needs you on an important task right away. That’s when your calendar reminder pops up letting you know about an hour long meeting you have in 15 minutes.
It’s not fun when your day gets hijacked.
A lot of emotions come up. You feel overwhelmed, powerless, maybe even angry or depressed. It doesn’t take long to feel hopeless and you think the only way to feel better is to get a new job. Before going too far down that path, come to grips with these two realities:
- most jobs are going to pile work on to your desk like this
- you can and need to be able to handle and even excel in this type of situation
Well that’s easy to say but how do you do that? Here are two tips that have helped me.
Focus On One Task Only
I found a very affordable kindle book awhile back with some simple yet powerful messages that help me stay in the moment and focus on the task in front of me. Mental FOCUS Training Secrets: How To Increase Mental Focus and Enhance Concentration For Maximum Productivity and RESULTS (Self Help) was a fast read and delivered very actionable ideas and concepts. While there are 1,000 things vying for your attention, the best use of your time is to push away 999 of them and zero in on just one. You’ll need to stop and take time to organize and prioritize all of your tasks but do that a couple of times per day. Otherwise, practice saying this, “strictly focusing on this single task in front of me is the best possible use of the next minute of my day.”
Meetings and Emails are Toxic
One of my favorite books is Rework by Jason Fried. It is a more expensive book but a fantastic read with its short chapters and straightforward writing style. They make it very clear that most meetings and most email will eat up your time and prevent you from getting things done and being effective. The truth is that it is up to YOU to fight for your productivity time at work.
Those two concepts made a big difference in the way I view my work day. Know when to shut down your email or decline a meeting. Be sure to schedule that time but do so in a way that gives you big chunks of time to really reflect on problems that need to be solved.