People are overwhelmed by the volume of messages they receive – texts, phone calls, emails and even old-fashioned letters. According to Forbes, on average, office workers receive 200 emails alone every day and spend up to 2 ½ hours writing and responding to emails daily.
Some of these messages are just noise. They demand an immediate response, but they don’t advance our business and they distract us from focusing on our goals.
These disruptions threaten to become “runaway projects” when you need to pull in additional individuals to help you resolve them. A data request, for example, might lead you to emailing someone in sales for information, which might lead to emailing someone else in operations for more information, which might lead to emailing an administrative assistant for support in putting together a report. Suddenly, the task is a team effort. Individuals are working outside their lanes and putting time into an unplanned project with no end in sight and no clear benefits to your business.
Managing Time Efficiently
While some of the channels of communication we use are relatively new, the challenge of managing distractions has been around for a long time. As far back as the 1950s, the famous Eisenhower quadrant, also known as the urgent-important quadrant, became popular as a business productivity tool to guide decision making about task management.
Prioritize to Maintain Your Focus
So, how can you stay focused on your goals in the face of so many “need it now” messages?
Over the years, various approaches to time management have emerged to help people be more productive. What these systems all have in common is a daily practice of identifying goals, listing and prioritizing the corresponding tasks and tracking progress.
The number of incoming messages you receive won’t decrease anytime soon, but with discipline and determination you can stay focused on what really matters and avoid getting sidetracked.
~ Dan Glass