There’s a problem that plagues a lot of us these days. It’s the barrage of the incoming.
It’s a full email inbox, inbound phone calls and voice mail, text messages, Twitter and Facebook updates, a co-worker stopping by our desk to “chat,” or any number of the incoming distractions that compete for our time each day.
The incoming isn’t necessarily the greater issue though. After all, it’s part of doing business or working in the times that we live. If you are good at what you do then more incoming will result (because everyone starts to want something from you).
The problem exists when we let the incoming control our time. When we start to be reactive to all the stimuli, wants and desires of others instead of being focused and proactive with what it is that we need to do and get done.
Your email, phone, cell phone, social media outlets, etc all exist for your benefit… for your convenience. Yes, they are communication tools for others as well and collectively they make us more connected and able to interact in amazing ways but they are for YOUR convenience, not just that of everyone else.
If you have a project to get done, block off some time, focus in and hunker down. Turn off your email, shut down your office phone (or turn off the ringer), silence your cell and don’t have Facebook or Twitter open. If you are in an office environment, shut your door, post a note on the outside of your cubicle that says “Do Not Disturb – I’m Making Work Happen”, or ask your boss if you can go offsite to do the work without the inbound distractions.
I wish I could personally respond to every email and every phone call within minutes of it coming in but if I did I’d be in reactive mode all day long and would never get anything that I need to get accomplished done. If you are always in reactive mode, neither will you.
So today, evaluate your work environment. Are you being sidetracked by the inbound? Are the spontaneous requests of others hijacking your time so that you can’t get what needs to get done, actually done? Assess the problem and then determine how you can shut down the incoming and focus on the outgoing.