Last week I introduced the “Touch It - Do It - concept for more productivity.” It basically requires that you stay focused and complete a task, once you have started working on it. No more task switching! It always takes ( = wastes ) some time to get tuned in for the current task in front of you. Don't switch it. Start and complete it. Then the next one, and the next one, etc.
But how to deal with all the interruptions during the day?
The phone rings, a co-worker comes into my office, …
If it happens that you work in your home office, your kids or your wife may come in, … How are you dealing with it or how should you deal with this?
When you are reading articles from successful business people, artists, managers you quickly see that they value their time highly and don't allow interruptions. They have certain time slots during the day, when they don't pick up the phone and have the door to their office closed.
Some may have 1 hour, some even 4 or 5 hours depending on the kind of work they do. They only deal with the most important tasks of their business. This is not limited to business it could also be the daily training for an athlete, or practicing for a musician.
The secrets of not getting interrupted are:
You set the rules, and you change and train your environment to respect your time and don't disturb you.
Your business has to be organized in a way that it runs like a clock without having everybody interrupting each other all the time. This is not limited to you, of course. No matter if you are the CEO of a large corporation or the owner of a smaller, probably home based, business. You will increase “production” by enforcing good time management and work habits. It will take some time till it sticks, but you have to start with yourself and make your staff follow your good example.
You have to switch from “Reactive mode to Responsive mode”. Read this article that I have written about that topic two days ago. It will give you additional ideas about the significance of being in control versus being controlled by others.
In the home office situation, you even have to train your family to respect your time. Just explain that you have more time for your love ones at the end of the day, if they stop pounding at your door all day long. This is not rude at all. Let's say your business fails, because you don't get enough done. What would be the outcome? You have to get a job, have to drive to work and back, which takes additional time. The result is even less time for your family. Make them understand that, when your door is closed, you are “not at home”.
If you are just starting your own business at night time, while you still have your day job, you might think about re-investing some of the first money that rolls in to do some fun things with your family (spouse, ...). That way you can show them, how they benefit from your growing business. It is a bribe, but one that usually works. Your environment is part of your success or failure. You have to deal with it the right way.
Now, we understand why it is important to concentrate on each task at the time and how to change yourself and your environment to help you follow it through.
Next I need to line out how to select the tasks and how to plan your day. But before I get into this, I will introduce the concept of “impact areas”.
An impact area is any part of your business that affects the profits somehow. In a larger corporation those might be identifiable according to the departments (if set up properly), but even a home based business has some distinct impact areas.
Some examples: sales, marketing, product development, customer service, accounts receivables , purchasing, traffic generation, SEO, … When you manage to improve one impact area, your profits will go up. That should be the deal.
How to improve an impact area?
You start out by assigning a one hour time slot each week (on a regular schedule) to have a meeting with all relevant team members or managers of that particular impact area. You set up those meetings for each of your impact areas. The goal of the meetings is to check on the status, discuss problems, come up with possible means for improvement and most importantly to assign tasks that have to be performed during the following week in order to improve that specific impact area.
Keep notes — meeting minutes — about the assignments and status. This will be a great guide in your next weekly meeting and allows to inspect the progress.
No matter in what position you are, you get already some tasks assigned during this “virtual or real” meetings.
Home based business: You will assign the tasks to yourself and stick with it during the week, like you would do it for your boss. Without this focus on impact areas you might perform important tasks (e.g. social bookmarking for a bloggers, …) not as consistently as you should.
Large Corporation: Being the CEO or manager of a department you will have most tasks delegated. You can turn to other things, while you know that the important areas of your business or department are being constantly improved. A major advantage of such meetings is that everybody in the impact area is informed and becomes part of the improvement process. Also decisions are made quickly during the meeting, because all involved persons are on the spot.
Virtual business: Just the same thing, but the meeting might me via a teleconference call.
If you see the areas of your business from this angle, you will distribute your energy more evenly and address all aspects of growing your company to the next level. Impact areas already can give you some hints about what is important for you to do, first. But how can you integrate the knowledge about impact areas into your daily schedule?
I will answer that question in the next issue of this series of articles on Friday, September 28. The subject will be “Priorities and Planning”. Stay tuned, don't miss it. Subscribe to my announcement email newsletter or RSS feed.
The author John W. Furst has 15+ years of business experience in various management positions in small, and large companies in different industries both in the USA and in Europe. He has settled down on the Canary Islands to be an Entrepreneur and leave the hectic corporate world behind. Want to learn about lead generation?
Business Success Link Love
In an effort to network a bit I’m going to start linking to other blogs. I’ll be writing one of these posts every other week, which is basically just a blog carnival, but this isn’t a side show, so I’m just calling it link love....
Weblog: Personal Development Blog - Dominate Your Life With John Crenshaw Tracked: Oct 01, 06:58
Hi John, Found your blog on the BlogRush widget and was drawn in by the title.
I definately need more discipline when it comes to sticking with one task.
I'm just starting out in the IM business I work from home and never close my office door. Big mistake I guess. Its obvious really! Most of the time I don't mind getting disturbed but it definately adds extra hours to the working day.
I will be reading your other posts as I think you give good advice. The voice of experience!
I am also a fan of the no nofollow thingy. Whats the best way to give each other backlinks/
PS.where are you in the Canaries/ I live in Thailand now but have spent lots of happy surf adventures in Lanzarote/Fuertaventura & surrounding smaller Islands.
Working from home, means no presure from "A" boss, and a lot of "enjoyable" distractions. Your efficiency is prone to suffer, which is a bad thing, it means you have less time for your family. You have to be disciplined more than in a regular job. I personally think that many home-based internet startup businesses fail, because people cannot handle the home-office situation.
I'll continue this series of time management articles, but only for my newsletter subscribers. Next issue this Friday. Sign up, don't miss it.
-- Yours John
P.S. The Canaries are great. I'll live on Tenerife, in the beautiful north.