1. Keep focus: Mute your phone and put it away from your sight
2. Keep focus: Schedule when is the time to check and reply emails
Either you are checking emails on phone or computer, checking and responding to email as soon as possible are good for the sender, but it’ll ruin your focus and in the end none of your tasks is completed.
Email is important, however your tasks is even more important. The best is to schedule time to check and reply to those emails.
For me, I schedule max 5 times a day to check and reply emails:
a. At the time you arrive at office. Spend about 15-30 minutes to check and reply emails. Try to stick to the time limit you have set. If there are still unread and unresponded email by the time you have reached the time limit for checking email, leave them and start doing your task.
b. Before heading for lunch. Spend about 15 minutes before heading to lunch or if you commute to your lunch place, you can make use of the time to check and reply emails.
c. During lunch break. This is not recommended, but do check and respond to emails during lunch break only if it’s emergency, if you can finish checking and/or replying them before heading to lunch. Again try to limit to 15 minutes, so that you can interact with others and relax your brain from work.
d. After lunch before continue doing your task. Do this if there’s still leftover unread and un-replied emails.
3. Keep focus: Hide browser
If you are working behind desk and use computer as your main interaction, try to hide (or for the extreme, uninstall) the browsers from your computer. By not seeing the browser icon, you help yourself not to open and check websites, especially those not related to work.
If you really need to use browser to search or research something on the internet, then try you need to push yourself not to open anything else other than something you need to search or research. Lucky enough if your IT security team setup rules/proxies so that employees are unable to open sites like Facebook in office network – so that you won’t get distracted and keep focus on your task, but in case office network doesn’t have the rules nor proxies, you can help yourself by setting it up yourself. Different browser have different way of setting up rules/proxies, but the easiest one (for me) is installing extension for Google Chrome.
4. Keep focus: Learn to say no
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5. Keep focus: Delegate as much as possible
6. Keep focus: Prioritize and Categorize
In today’s world, rarely you will have only single task to do. Most of the time you have plenty of tasks pending at your hand with various deadlines. Sort them out and prioritize not only by their deadlines but also by their dependencies and categorize similar tasks.
See what are the things you can delegate – like what I said on previous point, and find out what are the things need to be done the earliest to avoid miss from deadlines and to avoid show stopper items. Try to finish the task that have dependencies with others, so that other parties can continue their work without much waiting for you.
By categorizing similar tasks and do it one after another, you’ll get them done faster compared to if you do something completely different for each tasks that you have. Say you have task A, task B, task C, task D and task E. With task A, task C and task E are similar tasks. It will be faster for you to do task A then task C and task E then continue with task B and task D rather than do task A then task B then task C then task D then task E.
7. Keep focus: Do not multitask
8. Keep focus: Attend only important meetings and avoid long-hours meetings
9. Keep focus: Use headphone even without music
There are at least 2 types of person: can work without music and can only work if there’s music. I am the first type actually. But that’s not the point I would like to bring here.
Either you are the first type or second type, use headphone/earphone or anything in you ear to seal them helps you to get and keep focus. The reason is that when someone, be it your friends, your team mate, your boss or your subordinates, sees you sealing your ears with something, they may think two-three times before really bugging you. Even if they start bugging you, you can have the option to play deaf. If they are not persistent enough or the things are not urgent enough, they will stop bugging you after calling you a few times and that’s where you can keep focus and continue doing your tasks.
10. Keep focus: Be Flexible
Time change, people change, project change, tasks also change. Be as flexible as you can. Use the above guides as guides. Don’t treat them as rules where if A then must do A, if B then must do B. Even me, I don’t stick 100% with what I have told above – doesn’t mean I didn’t do all the things I mentioned above, but I’m trying to be flexible. Something like checking email 5 times a day. At the time I’m super busy, I cut down checking emails into 2 times only within a day: during lunch time and before leaving office. Another sample, hide browser. There’s a time when I didn’t have anything related to work need to be done. Then I can make use of the browser to surf the internet, however in my case instead of opening Facebook, I tried to learn something new and make use of the free time as best as possible to improve myself. Be flexible.
Did I say 7 ways? Yes I did. Treat the rest 3 as bonus for you to keep you focus & avoid distractions when doing your tasks. Cheers.
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