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How To Get More Done And Minimize Distractions

eyes looking on how to get more done

Increasing your productivity doesn’t take a magic wand or require you to get an advanced degree in statistics. If you are struggling with a lack of productivity, you need to take a closer look at your daily habits. Being unproductive is nobody’s fault but your own. Here are some of the top tips that you can incorporate into your daily life to learn how to get more done and minimize distractions.

Tip #1 – Learn to Anticipate Yourself

When it comes to productivity, we are our own worst enemy in learning how to get more done and minimize distractions. According to an article from Fast Company, where they studied office worker distractions, they learned how many of the distractions involve different kinds of technologies, and they ended up creating even more of a force for interruptions and different places where we can focus our attention.

“We had observers go into the workplace and we timed people’s activities to the second. We’ve been to various workplaces, all high-tech companies. We wanted to look at information workers. We had observers shadow each person for three and a half days each and timed every activity to the second. If they pick up a phone call, that’s the start time. When they put the phone down, that’s the stop time. When they turn to the Word application, we get the start time and stop time. We found people switched these activities on average of every three minutes and five seconds”.

Roughly half of them are self-interruptionsThe good news is that internal disturbances are the only kind that you can control.

Learn to know your patterns and plan for these distractions.

Tip #2 – Send Out Busy Signals

Half of your distractions are external distractions that come in the form of email, people, phone calls, and chatter from other offices. If you want to stop these external distractions before they start you have to give out the right signals. If you utilize instant messenger, set yourself too busy and wear headphones, even if you aren’t listening to music. Providing subtle queues may seem passive aggressive, but they will also save you from annoying distractions. Avoiding upfront these types of distractions is the skill you will need to learn how to get ore done and minimize distractions.

Listening to headphones


Tip #3 – Make Technology Work for You

At times, technology may seem like an enemy, but technology can be your anti-distraction buddy. Turn off your email alerts, create an auto-response to text messages, and set your phone to go to voicemail. Block out chunks of time on your calendar as “busy.” Unless you are dealing with life and death situations at work, your coworkers will be able to manage without you for a few hours.

I encourage you to use tools like Rescue Time.

Your dashboard in rescue time shows you how your day is shaping up. You can use it to get a quick understanding of your time, see which types of activities you are doing the most, and gauge how productive you have been. You can rank and categorize activities so you can decide what’s important to you.

rescue time

Each week, they will send you a handy summary email so you can easily keep tabs on how your days are shaping up and spot any big changes that are happening. You will learn how to get more done and minimize distractions.


Tip #4 – Learn to Say No

If you are already overloaded with work and you feel like you never get anything accomplished, then you need to learn to say no to new requests and projects. You can nicely let people know that you would love to help, but your plate is currently full. This will become a discipline of yours if you want to get more done and minimize distractions.

If you are starting to have more and more unproductive days, it’s time for you to determine your distractions and put a stop to them. By being proactive, silencing technology, and learning to say no, you will find that you will start to become more productive.


Start Today

How to get more done and minimize distractions starts with you. What will you do today to start minimizing distractions? What habits have you developed that are hindering you? Time today to evaluate and set your goals on what changes need to be done and which ones you can start on as soon as you finish reading this post.



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Proper use of To-Do List is a Leadership Development Skill

I have read a lot about creating a To-Do list and supposedly the advantage of them. I am not a big advocate of strictly using them. Here is where the To-Do list can become dangerous or at least very hard and miserable for those trying to use them successfully. A sloppy to-do list is a source of stress and wasted effort that many, like myself, have found as we build upon our leadership development skills. And often times this crash and burn with To-Do list end up with leaders abandoning their list for another great idea they hear about from those who have trained themselves in the proper way to use whatever that tool is they are selling or promoting.

List Taking Can Work
To keep from the above crash and burn, let’s just spend a little time training in this Leadership Development Skill to properly use a to-do list. Let’s look into how we should not use it instead of bailing on it all together and attempting yet another tool thrown to the waste side. Let’s begin with the understanding that an unorganized and unfocused to-do list is a bigger productivity hurdle than not having a to-do list at all. If you don’t have a to-do list at all, you simply do the most urgent item in front of you. It might not be a stress-free method but it’s immediate and can appear uncluttered. A “War and Peace” size to-do list, however, is confusing, it doesn’t show you what is important and urgent, and it spreads your time and creative energy thinly over incomplete and unprocessed items.

Define the Boundaries of Your To-Do List
If asked what your to-do list was for, you would likely respond, “for writing down stuff I have to do.” But if asked what it wasn’t for, what would you say? Everyone has the “put stuff you want to do on the list” part down pat, but by not defining the boundaries and limitations of the to-do list you condemn it to become something it isn’t and cannot effectively be.

Your To-Do List Is Not a Dumping Ground:
You should not be using your to-do list as your brain dumping area. Writing down all your stray thoughts, pieces of information, and ideas is a great habit I stand behind and promote to my Kidology Coaching Students, or personal/business coaching, but if you’re capturing right to your to-do list then you’re throwing yourself under the bus before you even get started.

Your to-do list must remain separate from whatever capturing process you use. Did you get that? Let me say it again…Your to-do list must remain separate from whatever capturing process you use. Go through your list and convert the “dumped” items into actions that belong on your to-do list or remove them and add them into another folder or folders into like Evernote by far my number 1 capturing, note taking, file, dump, create zone tool I use.

Your To-Do List is Not a Wish List:
Do you need to contact two department heads before Monday regarding projects you’re working on with them? That’s a to-do list entry. It needs to be done. You want to have your desk cleaned by the end of each day, that does not belong on your to-do list. It is not wrong to have these “wish” projects, but they do not belong in clouding your to-do list up. Again create a wish folder in Evernote and leave the to-do list simple.

Your To-Do List Is Not for Ambiguous Tasks:
Never put a “task” on your to-do list that isn’t something that someone else could just pick up your list and run with. “Computer stuff”, “clean up”, is ambiguous and not easily converted into action by others. If your assistant had to take over your to-do list for the day because you were absent, how exactly would they deduce what they were supposed to clean up? Absolutely do not rely on your memory for filling in the gaps of your to-do list. Not only is it a bad practice—memory is imperfect—but it’s a waste of your time. You shouldn’t have to spend 1-2 seconds remembering exactly what you were going to clean up every time you look at your to-do list. Your to-do list should only contain items which can be acted on in an immediate and clear manner.

Have The Best Of Both Worlds

In my experience, I have coached many through the leadership development skill of running a proper to-do list. It is a skill and one that we can all learn if we are good with scrapping some of our misguided practices of creating a sloppy to-do list. Have the discipline to keep your to-do list down to 3-5 items a day and file the rest to a mind dumping area, like Evernote.

What do you think will be the hardest part of this skill for you to implement? Why?

What are the tools you are thinking of using to create your to-do list and your mind dumping list?

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How to start for a productive day

Ready for this mind-blowing start for a productive day? If you are waiting until the start of the day, you are already too late. A productive day starts at least the night before. I believe that finishing the previous day strong by what I call mind dumping (more on this to come) will aid you in having that productive next day. Turning your mind dumping into S.M.A.R.T.E.R. actionable items, and for me, this is where I also settle what the first thing I will take on in the morning. The item that falls in my top 20% of what only I can do but will result in 80% of a return for me.

Now it is the next day and time to put into effect the prep from the night before. When you first wake up, don’t jump out of bed. Set your alarm a few minutes before you really need to get up. Spend the first few minutes of your waking day – while still in bed – reviewing these questions:

1. What am I excited about today? The greater the positive impact that your planned actions and goals will have on your life, the more motivated you are to get them accomplished.

2. What is my biggest priority (this is that 20/80 question),

3. What will I do about it (S.M.A.R.T.E.R.)?

4. How will I know today was a success? (This last question is critical! It’s impossible to hit a mark we’ve never set).

Now go ahead and jump out of bed spend your time filling up your well. What do I mean by that? Grab a cup of coffee, spend time reading something inspiring, read your Bible, talk with God, listen to a podcast. Don’t jump straight into your inbox (I actually recommend not taking this on until you have accomplished your 20%. An inbox gives you other peoples desires for your time, and I think we should accomplish our goals before we take on others) or calendar until you have filled your well and accomplished your pre-determined night before Pareto task.

While many spend their days in uncertainty, trying to determine the right course of action in their work and life, having a simple ritual like the one I have laid out here allows us to reach a place of clarity about our expectations, our hopes, and our tactical plans.

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