Cut down distractions that are holding you back!
Someone asked me how many access points I have. What they meant by that was how many ways can someone get a hold of me. That made me really think about how I spend my day, where I go to get things done, communicate and how many distractions I may have. Let me share my tips on cutting down distractions so you can be more productive.
How many access points do you have for your team. How do they get a hold of you to answer questions on projects…
- Basecamp (Project Management tools)?
- Facebook Messenger?
I mean, really – the list could go on and on. Think about it – if your team or clients have numerous ways of getting a hold of you at a moment’s notice – how many distractions you would have in a day. The interruptions would control YOU and your day versus you controlling YOUR day.
I was asked once if I used Voxer (an app on your phone – kind of like a walkie talkie – so that people can ask you questions and communicate). I said no way. I could just imagine getting interrupted in meetings, in the middle of being focused on a project or writing and more. Granted I’m sure it has settings to cut down notifications – but the nature of the app is that you get a hold of someone right away. It’s just not for me.
I have had some clients ask me about Slack and communicating through that platform instead of email (they get bogged down with emails – which I get). But honestly – whether I’m responding to an email or ‘comment’ in a slack thread – it’s all the same thing to me. In fact – I almost think it’s worse in some cases. Between having yet another browser tab open at all times, another platform to manage and getting the bell notifications and email notifications (yes, I’m sure you can alter that) – it’s another distraction and avenue to lose my focus on tasks I’m working on. It may work for many and I’m not slamming it – it just doesn’t work for me.
Don’t feel just because many people use it, folks feel it’s the next best thing to being more productive with teams, that you need to jump aboard that ship. Really think through how you work and function in a day. Think about what works best for YOU to focus on specific projects and get more done in a day. It’s okay to say NO.
Set boundaries with your team. What works for me is using email as my ONE gateway, Teamworks for projects and Skype for quick questions. For tasks associated with projects – all information (files/comments/instructions/questions) is noted in the Teamworks task – so everything is central and there is a thread of communication. If a team member is working on a project and needs some direction, is having an issue or a quick question and needs an answer sooner rather than later – they text me a message in Skype. I prefer they don’t just ‘call’ and interrupt a meeting I have or working on a project. I even ask that they type to ask me if I’m free and can I take a call. I then let them know I’ll wrap up what I’m doing and be there in 5 minutes – or stepping into a meeting and won’t be available until a specific time or of course answer their question right away. Skype allows them to get a quick response, my inbox doesn’t get overloaded and I know if I get the Skype notification it’s relatively important. It’s a system I’ve created that works for us as a team and allows me greater focus on projects, more productivity and easier communication to so I can be there for my team when they need me.
Set boundaries for clients. It’s also important to let them know how you work best to be efficient, manage your time and be more productive to serve them better. Let them know your typical hours of availability. If you don’t work Friday afternoons – let them know upfront. If you prefer they only call when it’s an emergency, to cut down on interruptions – let them know upfront. If your phone does ring and you are in the middle of a deadline for a project – don’t feel obligated to answer it. Let the voice mail do their work and call them back when you are finished or have a free moment. In other words – set the expectations up front. Another great tip is to answer emails in order of when they came in – i.e. – older emails first then new one’s (unless you see URGENT in the subject line of course!). If you email people back as soon as it hits your inbox – they’ll start to expect that you are fully available to them at a second’s notice. If you start emailing back during the evenings – they may start to expect you to work on projects during your free time. HINT – this is where that Google Chrome Boomerang feature comes in handy (you set what time it reaches their inbox). It’s a case of being strategic with how you handle your emails.
Be focused on what tasks are priorities, what has to get done. It’s so easy to get sucked into emails and be distracted with notifications from various platforms. Choose your platforms wisely. Choose them strategically and deliberately. There are a ton of options and they may really help many entrepreneurs. Everyone works differently – so choose what is right for YOU, your clients and your team.