Is this your everyday scenario?
- You arrive to the office, perhaps coffee in hand.
- You greet your coworkers before settling in at your desk.
- You turn on your computer, immediately getting sucked into the email vortex.
- After reading and responding to a few emails, you realize it’s time to get that new project started so you open up the necessary documents but then remember that you never called your mom the night before, as promised, so you decide to make a quick call.
- You eventually start that new project but get sidetracked when you realize you forgot to reserve a conference room for an upcoming meeting. So, you leave your project to do this minor task along with a few other things “that’ll only take a minute”.
- Eventually you return to your project, but not before getting sucked back into the email vortex a few more times.
If you’ve ever arrived to the end of your day, and said “I don’t feel like I got anything done today”, you’re in good company. Many people admit to the same thing playing out in their office!
When we spend time doing little, menial tasks throughout our day, it takes away the opportunity to designate time for those bigger tasks. But you might argue that crossing off 5-7 things (albeit small things) from your Task List is much more fun than getting that one bigger item started. I would agree! Trust me – I’m with you on this one!
When I saw this behavior in myself, I decided to use a timer and block off 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the afternoon for what I fondly call Chunk the Junk time. While my timer is counting down I give myself permission to do those menial tasks, such as register for an upcoming conference, make a hair appointment, pay a bill online, etc. When the timer goes off, it’s time to turn my attention to the bigger projects at hand.
If you’re having trouble with focus at work, why not give this Chunk the Junk exercise a try? It’s fun and can be quite effective. You’ll be giving yourself permission to focus on the little things, for a mere 15 minutes, which then frees up your mind and attention for more important or larger tasks.