Often people learn to focus only in very tough times when there is no option and the focus on that one thing is the only choice to survive. You may know this from learning for exams or starting with an important work - often you start quite in the last moment.
It is sad, annoying and producing either aggression when you hardly try to be efficient and do your best and then others start or continue to waste your time. Others? Why others? If my time is wasted it is me wasting my time, isn't it?
Indeed, it is you wasting your time, but sometimes there are others contributing a lot to navigate you in such situations. Then often you can't really get out easily.
What can you do to avoid getting caught by the time bandits (yes I prefer the word bandit here in favor of thieve)?
- Never attend a meeting without an agenda!
- Avoid multitasking. As with computers doing two tasks in parallel means that both tasks get done slower and there is an overhead lost needed for the task switching!
E. g. Never take the phone or switch to read emails if you are currently working on an important task or on a task that requires your full attention!
- Have clear and priorities and goals (or direction where you want to go). For whatever comes up that does not meet these commitments define a late schedule.
- Urge others to be concrete (have concrete goals and priorities). If you can't get concrete information immediately keep asking. Often the get away quickly if you ask the right questions, because they have no idea.
- Don't jump on hypes just because it's a hype. Do your own critical investigation asking for the big benefit. Often there is no real benefit.
- Don't start actions as long as others did not take their decisions. You cannot take all decisions for your customers, boss or partners - often it is simply not your job and you are not in the appropriate position. Although it seems to be less effort to take a decision than implementing a project often the decisions take far longer.
Exception: If it has been declared that you do take all relevant decisions.
- Learn to ignore things that others deposit on you just to get their mind flushed and cleared (this includes everything from annoying colleagues to news crying for attention.
Exception: If they really have good and creative ideas.
- Don't attempt to help others if they do not give the clear statement/commitment that they want to really solve their problem. You can identify such situations by watching the reaction of your first solution proposals or by asking for that commitment prior to further action.
- Don't take the responsibility for a project that others drove into a mess and then just want to attach the problem to somebody else! You take the responsibility for your actions and others have to take their responsibility.
Exception: You get hired especially for such an impossible mission and get payed accordingly.
- Change the environment! Hard to accept, but you simply will never be able to have a power hour if many people are around you and can ask you any stuff by accident.
- Instruct people that they should ask for your time in advance.
They should ask for a schedule or at least do not immediately come up with their questions but rather ask before if you have time now. If the question is already told your concentration is gone. But a "No, come back in an hour" can be given automatically without loosing focus.
- Learn to say "No" or learn to postpone the things that are not really important (procrastination can be useful). Some problems dissolve themselves if you do not disturb them.
Related posts: Time thieves and real news, Change the environment, When changing the environment does not help, Crying for attention, Hot air, Masked rot, Total cost of commitment, Change hype, Focus by direction, Find the root problem, Let 'em wait, Why not multitasking how to, How to rebuff somebody, Tell not more and not less, Razor sharp focus.