Feel the Benefits of Productivity with these Five Tips on HOW to Protect Your Time.
In my last article, Want to Stop Getting Distracted?, I outlined the issues related to distraction in the workplace and offered a solution to this problem. That solution is protected time – and here’s HOW to use it effectively.
There has been a lot of talk about this work culture of ours that is full of distractions. New technologies – including social media and mobile devices – and the new work spaces that promote collaboration and sharing are great. However, they produce an environment in which distraction is, unfortunately, the norm.
As I discussed before, distraction seems to be endemic. It affects people that really shouldn’t be affected by it – including nurses and pilots – and shaves hours off our productive working time. And there seems, really, to be little that anyone is doing about it. Apart from working longer hours to make up for the things they should have done during the day.
What is Protected Time?
It’s this problem that protected time has helped me to tackle. Because this technique pushes aside the distractions that continually afflict us. It puts us in the zone so that we can focus and produce our best work. And it makes other people start to see that perpetual distraction is not the only way to work.
Protected time is the productivity tool that carves out dedicated time in your day – dedicated time that is reserved for you alone. It is distraction-free. It is the opportunity to dedicate yourself to you and your work before anyone else.
The concept is simple. However, given the fact that distraction is primarily a problem of habit, establishing protected time is not always super easy. Because, as the Six Influencers of Change outline, breaking such habits requires more than just will. You have to change your environment too.
Here, I want to give you the steps you need to follow to get your time back. Let’s take a look.
HOW: The Five Steps to Productive Protected Time.
#1 Plan Your Week.
Effective protected time starts with a plan – and planning your time weekly is the best way to do this.
On either a Friday or Sunday clarify what you have on in the coming week – from meetings to phone calls. Include exercise and off-time too.
In between other commitments, schedule blocks that will be your protected time. This will be when you do your focused work.
Planning it makes it much more likely to happen. You’re much more likely to commit to it if you have it written down.
#2 Plan Time before Protected Time to Allow Greater Focus.
Focus is enhanced by really quite simple things. Exercise, breaks, and a change of environment all contribute to making you more clear-headed and more efficient.
Before your planned protected time, schedule a break. This will help you and your mind make more of your protected time. Quite simply, you’ll just focus better.
#3 Inform Your Colleagues and Everyone around You.
No matter how much you hate distractions, that has never stopped anyone else from being a distraction. And you can wave goodbye to your protected time as soon as anyone comes over to over a cup of tea or ask advice on a problem.
To make sure that your time really is protected, you need to tell everyone what your intention is with this and why.
#4 Go Digitally Silent.
The same applies with digital communications. If your email is open, you’re going to receive something – and this is going to distract you. If your phone is on loud, the same applies.
Switch off these technologies – otherwise you’ll never feel the concentration required to get things done.
#5 Batch Similar Tasks Together.
Whilst you have now the space to work without distractions, what are you going to do with this protected time?
If you don’t have one big project to be getting on with, try batching different tasks together. Whether that’s lots of different administrative tasks or a handful of creative ones, putting them together improves performance. Your mind won’t have to switch between lots of different types of skills.