Guest post by Kristin Kaufman
In order to accomplish any goal, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this, yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise, which they invariably do.
A few thoughts to consider and discipline ourselves around:
1. Manage and filter the interruptions
I recently read an article that said we spend only 10 minutes on a task before we are interrupted. How can we curb these interruptions? Say “no” when these distractions arise.
I know what you are thinking, how can we say no to our bosses? I am certainly not suggesting that is the standard answer every time; however, there are scenarios in which we must say no. A book I have found especially helpful, The Power of the Positive No, gives excellent tips on how to say “yes” while saying “no,” while preserving a strong relationship with the other party.
2. Stop the multi-tasking
The Center for Brain Health in Dallas actually states that multi-tasking is one of the worst things we can do to maintain brain health. The sad reality is that the multi-tasking trend is going up not down. With the increase of PDAs, email, texting, working mothers, and the quest for “work/life balance,” we end up doing more at one time versus prioritizing and saying “no.”
One study has actually stated that our IQs can fall as much as 10 points when we juggle so many projects. This leads to ineffective leadership, production, and overall results.
3. Focus and stay disciplined to the chosen priorities
This is where it gets tough. Everyone is pulling on us to do ‘this, that, or the other’ now! If we allow everyone else’s priorities to dictate how and when we spend our time, we will never get where we want to go. We have to be ruthlessly determined to focus on what we believe we need to do to achieve our goals. We have to plant our flag as to where we are going, determine our plans and our goals on how we are going to get there, and then, publicly state where and how we are going to spend our time to get there.
4. Feng shui your office and your mind
Recently, I spent time completely clearing out my office and several outdated files. My piles and folders were simply not working for me anymore. I was frustrated, stressed out, and was working every weekend trying to keep up. Organizing papers, searching for contacts and not having a clear way to find information can simply exhaust and zap our mojo. Recently, I revisited Stephen Covey’s First Things First to develop a leadership development workshop, and it was a fabulous refresher.
At the end of the day, it takes guts to make the hard calls as to where to spend our time, and when to say “no.” We must continue to keep ourselves and our troops focused, committed and avoid the distractions guaranteed to present themselves.
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Image: Martin Pettitt via Flickr, Creative Commons
Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. Alignment, Inc. is a unique services organization that works with companies and individuals to create sustainable success individually and collectively. Her past and current clients include Accenture, Hewlett-Packard, HMS, Frito-Lay, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Uplift Education and NYC Leadership Academy. During her 25 years of corporate experience, she held executive positions at Hewlett-Packard, Vignette Corporation and United Health Group.