1. Block Time
Set aside a certain amount of uninterrupted time every day. This is important because every interruption takes time. It takes an average of thirteen minutes to get back to what we were doing before the interruption. Ten interruptions is over two hours of unplanned time.
There are 1440 minutes in a day and we should manage ever minute. Schedule interruptions. I know it sounds cheesy but what if you were to have a specific time when you check your email, return phone calls, check in with your secretary and or whoever else helps you stay on track. Most interruptions don’t have to interrupt you when they do.
We need at least 10 hour workdays in part because of the number of interruptions we deal with.
2. Batch Time
Batching like tasks together can help save time and energy and help you get more done. What if you were to return phone calls at 11:00am and 4:30pm? What if you were to handle email 2 times a day?
Keep a list of tasks and then batch like tasks together. David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
recommends something similar. He recommends keeping a task list in a way that allows you to get specific thing done when you are in a place where you can do them. For instance, some tasks should just be marked “@ computer” or “@ phone”. Because I live in a small town and have to travel to run most errands I have an “@ Billings/Bozeman” list. Going to Billings or Bozeman is a 3-5 hour commitment so batching errands is really important. Forgetting something costs a lot in time and money.
3. Keep a Priority List
A priority list allows you to get the most important things done. The rest either gets done or it doesn’t. Keep a list and then prioritize it from the most to least important using numbers or letters to indicate the importance.
It’s also important to set a time frame for each item. Why would setting a time frame be important?
Consider this. During a given day you might three projects that take thirty minutes and one that takes 3 hours. By setting a time frame you can schedule each project in an appropriate spot that allows for uninterrupted time. If you have a dentist appointment in the morning a clear afternoon you can schedule the three 30 minute projects around the appointment and leave the afternoon for the larger project. Besides, there’s something about setting a time frame that makes us want to beat our own projections.
A priority list should take no more than ten minutes a day. Consider using the last ten minutes of every day to prioritize the next day.