Create a Shield to Eliminate Time Wasters at Work

Shield to Guard Your Time

Avoid time wasters at work. Guard your time.

As a leader you need to put someone or something between you and interruptions, no matter how well intended. Hire a personal assistant. Let the answering service get the calls. Make use of "leave a message." 

Unless those calls or visitors are critical to your business and need to be responded to, by you, right now, find another way to handle them.

You need uninterrupted time to work on priorities. We know that interruptions are the greatest time wasters there are. It takes more energy to get back to productive work after the interruption has left.

A shield to your time can get the essential information and pass it along, allowing you to respond to it at a time and in a manner that works best for you.

"Do you go full throttle and then collapse at the end of the day? You think it's because life is so hectic, but it's really because you're using adrenaline as your fuel source. Adrenaline tells you you're great; it gives you superhuman power; you probably like it, but, sorry, it's not sustainable."   

Laura Berman Fortang, Take Yourself to the Top

Five Days of Coaching to Eliminate Time Wasters at Work

DAY ONE

Think about interruptions. How much time do you lose to interruptions when you could be working on priorities? How are you interrupted? Conduct an 'interruption analysis' and determine what adjustments you need to make.

The Coach asks:

  • Conduct your own "interruption analysis." Go back long enough to recall what it was that interrupted your concentration of the priority. What actually happened? How quick were you to get back to high-focus time? What existing conditions allowed the interruption to happen? 
  • What is actually going on? Do you have a people problem? A personal habit problem? A logistical problem? A low standard? A people-pleasing tendency? What is it that is at the heart of this?
  • Roughly how much time have you "lost" in this past week due to interruptions of all kinds?
  • As you think about interruptions, what are you noticing about yourself as a leader? 


DAY TWO

Today put something or someone between you and your interruptions. Set a new standard for yourself. You need quality time to concentrate on priorities. What will it take to allow that to happen? This is a day to take action.

The Coach asks:

  • As an executive, leader or senior level professional, what or who exactly do you consider to be an interruption? You need people. You value people. What constitutes something you should say "no" to and allow others to deal with? 
  • What exactly ARE your priorities that you need to focus on? If they are that important, what standard do you need to set for yourself around creating time to devote focus to those things? 
  • If it isn't already there, what do you need to put as a shield between you and time wasters at work? 
  • It something or someone is already in place, but the system isn't working so well, what do you need to adjust? 


DAY THREE

Speak to those few people who most interrupt. Be kind but articulate a clear boundary that will protect your time.

The Coach asks:

  • You may well be very kind and accommodating. This has caused people to take advantage of the space you have allowed to exist. Rehearse how you will inform them of your new boundary to protect your high-focus time to work on the priority. 
  • What one or two people most interrupt? What is it they really need? Have they become dependent in some way? What's your response to them? 
  • If you wish to allow for conversation or consultation, when would be the best time to both guard your focus time AND create space for individuals? 
  • How willing are you (really) to create this boundary to protect high-focus time? 


DAY FOUR

You've heard it said, “Sometimes you're your own worst enemy”. You have to guard against interrupting yourself. You may stop others but are you constantly distracted by other things? Clear your desk. Concentrate on one thing at a time until complete.

The Coach asks:

  • What distracts you? Take some time to think about this. Do you have a "default" distraction, that "gets you every time?"
  • What can you do about this tendency to be distracted by things of your own making? What will you do? 
  • If you've never had a clear desk, try it. Have only one to-do item on your desk at a time. Notice any difference it makes in focusing on the priority at hand.
  • As you try some of these time management strategies, what are you noticing about your own ability to concentrate and focus on one thing at a time?


DAY FIVE

Train your personal assistant well. They are not only your shield against interruptions but a conduit through which vital information flows. They can be invaluable to your effectiveness. Aim high for a quality individual.

The Coach ask:

  • How effective is your current personal assistant at shielding you from time wasters at work? 
  • What might your assistant need to learn in order to boost their ability to guard your time? 
  • How can the two of you improve your communication to enhance your attention to priorities? What do they need to know from you in order to be of maximum assistance. 
  • How well are you doing at this? Stick with it until a new habit gets ingrained. You may find it helpful to work with a Coach on reducing and eliminating the last of those time wasters at work. 

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 

Notes

Don't hesitate to dive more deeply into your time wasters at work with a Coach who understands and can help you. If you do a little calculation, you'll find that over the course of a career, you can save and carve out literally a huge amount of time for focusing on the truly important things. 

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