Sometimes we get caught up in over-processing things on our desk because of a lack of focus. Other times we find ourselves repeating steps or forgetting where we were prior to an interruption. Research has shown that it takes on average 64 seconds to regain our train of thought after an interruption. Here are 5 tools I use to keep my focus and to avoid the Waste of Over Processing.
- Checklists – Using checklists have a big impact in my office. Think about the things in your job that you do over and over. For example, every time I book a speaking engagement, I have a checklist of 12 things that need to happen before I show up to present. I keep this checklist in my MS Outlook ® Task feature and it guides me so things don’t get overlooked or slip through the cracks. I also have a checklist of things I take with me on every business trip. I keep this handy to review before walking out of my office and while packing up luggage and equipment.
- A timer – Timers are simple yet effective gadgets. Setting a timer for 15 minutes to clean out your E-mail Inbox, do some filing or to jot down ideas for an article will help you make good use of your time. Watching the minutes tick away helps me stay focused and motivated to get as much done as possible. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a small block of time. If you need a timer on your computer screen, use this online stopwatch.
- Block E-mail, voicemail and project time on your calendar – When you have a task that requires ninety minutes or more, block time on your calendar to work on it. By doing so, it states the importance of the project and guarantees time to work on it. You can also block out email processing time 2-3 times each day to help you focus strictly on this task. If others have access to your calendar they’ll have a clearer picture of how much time is available in your schedule.
- Power Hour – If you want a way to experience better time management, be more organized and accomplish things in a fraction of the time they currently take, then you’ll want to begin using the Power Hour strategy. It involves creating new habits in the way you start your day and you will quickly see the value of it. Read 7 Steps to a Productive Day to get more details on implementing the Power Hour.
- Perfectionism Check –Perfectionists struggle with the Waste of Over Processing in a big way because in their opinion, a project can always be improved just a little bit more. Some perfectionists struggle with sending a brief e-mail in plain text because they want a “perfect e-mail” and would rather spend time changing fonts, highlighting, italicizing, etc. before pressing “send”. Sometimes you just have to have the mantra of “Done is good enough” and move on to another project.