Then follow the six rules of two sharp time management and personal productivity experts, Peggy Duncan and Laura Vanderkam.
1. Track your time better. Chances are you’re not aware of some of the biggest time-wasters that keep you from focusing on your work, says Duncan, the Atlanta-based author of The Time Management Memory Jogger.
For a few days, keep a precise time log, jotting down everything you do during the workday and how long each task takes. That five minutes you think you’re spending on Facebook or Twitter? It might really be 45 minutes. The quick chat with a neighbor who calls every day could actually be tying you up for a half-hour.
Those little chunks of time can add up to many hours during the course of a week. “Once you see how you’re really spending your time, you can make meaningful changes,” Duncan says.
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2. Eliminate interruptions. When your workflow is constantly disrupted, it’s time to take back control, Duncan says.
Block out specific hours when you won't allow yourself to be interrupted. That means these are the times when you won’t answer the phone, read email or check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
If you need an electronic nanny, use a free program like AntiSocial for Macintosh or Freedom for either PC or Mac to block Internet and email access. You can also program these tools to block specific sites if you can't afford to give up online access but want to avoid temptation.
One of my favorite anti-interruption tricks is to set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes then try to get as much done during that period as possible. This personal version of “beat the clock” is a great way to keep focused, helping me to get my work done faster so I can end the day earlier.
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