Interruptions and time wasters, the things that keep us from doing what’s really important. In my last post, how to do more while working less, I told you that interruptions and time wasters were the key. When you have a project that simply must be done immediately, you can do it and you do do it. You close yourself off from interruptions and time wasters.

What we need to do is to start making that process a part of every day and gain control over our time and priorities. So what are some of those interruptions and time wasters?

  • Telephone calls
  • Email
  • Meetings
  • Someone stopping by
  • Problems that others could solve
  • Poor systems that require constant intervention
  • Employees that aren’t able to do their jobs
  • Busy or urgent work that isn’t a priority
  • All that 80 percent of your day that only contributes to 20 percent of your goals

That’s just a list to get us started. You should add to it the things that you run into every day that are interruptions and time wasters. If we don’t take the time to identify the problem areas we can’t fix them. Why continue to be trapped by these problem areas when you really can be free of them?

Let’s start with telephone calls. It’s unbelievable the number of people that I meet with who allow their cell phones to be an interruption in our meetings. Remember the old days when we didn’t have cell phones? Amazingly the world still functioned and life didn’t end if we didn’t handle a call until after a meeting. Frankly, if the person calling knew you were busy or talking with someone else, they would wait for their turn and wouldn’t interrupt you. That’s just being polite. But with the cell phone they don’t know you’re busy. Do them and yourself a favor and turn the phone off in meetings.

That’s just an example but it can be applied to all of your day. What if you only took calls between certain hours of the day? Say you set aside four hours each day for receiving and returning phone calls, or even two hours. That would leave you with blocks of time each day with no interruptions in which you could be much more productive … in less time.

In addition, when you are taking calls, how much of the call really has a focus on dealing with the purpose of the call and how much of it is just chit chat? Many times we allow ourselves to ramble on about unimportant matters and calls can take 2 or 3 times as long. It is important to take time for each caller and build relationships but we often go beyond that. Again, if the caller knew you were focused and busy on a project, they wouldn’t want to take a big chunk of your time.

Let’s try and implement a new way of dealing with telephone calls. Set blocks of time that you will take calls and blocks of time you won’t. Also watch the amount of time you are on any one call. Try this out today and you’ll be amazed at the results. I’ve implemented this and it has allowed my productivity to sky rocket.

It’s Parkinson’s Law at work. Projects expanding to fill the entire day, because we allow it. We allow it through the interruptions that are a part of every day. Let’s do away with or limit the interruptions and we’ll find that in less time than ever we can get everything done we planned.

Accomplishing more while working less, what a great idea. Now you’ll have more time for the things that are important in your life rather than just jumping from fire to fire.

Next time I’ll cover the next big time waster for many – email.


by Steven Schlagel