Recognize Your Productivity Speed Bumps?

Businessman concentrating on his work

Can you identify your productivity speed bumps?

When you look at your to do list at the end of the day, how many times do you find that “stuff” got in the way and prevented you from completing tasks you had set yourself?

These are your productivity speed bumps.  See how many of them ring bells for you. There are many ways people diminish their effectiveness, or allow it to be diminished by others.

Really, the cure all for each of them is simply awareness; being aware of what gets in your way and having the presence of mind to see when it’s happening, or better yet, before it happens. Then it’s simple to make a different and more productive choice.

That’s really all there is to it; be aware and choose to do it differently.  Here are the most common speed bumps and wrong turns that can disrupt your day and your focus.

Probably the biggest speed bump is unnecessary interruptions. Only a few key people should be allowed to interrupt you for emergencies and extremely important time critical decisions. You need to teach them to make sure that the emergency is real, not imagined; that the decision is critical and that the key people that you allow to interrupt really justify the diversion of your attention.

There was a study done recently of business people that said or showed that interruptions are one of the most common barriers to productivity for managers.  It reported that a typical business person is interrupted once every eleven minutes and that it takes about twenty-five minutes for the typical business person to get back to what he or she was doing before the interruption. Those numbers probably vary widely for different business people in different businesses, but they make a point that deserves your attention.

Every interruption takes time itself and you need additional time to recover from the interruption. That’s why so many business people can only get what they call their important work done after hours or away from the office where interruptions are not so much of a problem.

Think about your own situation. What’s the interruption pattern for you and your work? If it’s a problem, and it probably is, you can do something about it.

You can give yourself “do not disturb” time. Let it be known that there are certain times of the day during which you’re off limits. It might be a little difficult in some businesses, but you can actually turn your phone off and say ‘for fifty minutes I am just focusing on what I have got to focus on right now.’

You can have someone act as a gatekeeper and you can set out rules for what kind of issues need to be brought to you immediately and what issues can wait for an appropriate time.

I know one business owner who doesn’t even put his personal mobile phone on his cards or on the side of the van. There is a mobile phone number there, but it goes straight through to his gatekeeper. In this case, it’s his wife who does all the administrative work for the business. She handles it, she works it out and she filters what needs to go through directly and what can wait for an hour, or what’s a message that can be texted through to him. However they choose to handle it, it is handled with a set of rules.

You can encourage people to make appointments with you when possible, instead of just interrupting you at unexpected times. So again,  you can screen incoming people and screen phone calls as much as possible by using your voice mail or delegating them to someone, but once you see how the interruptions fill your available time, you’ll easily begin to think of ways to shift your behavior and also shift the behavior of those around you.

Until next time…

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