You often get derailed by "the unexpected.”
You get interrupted an unexpected number of times daily. Those interruptions come at unexpected times. They each take an unexpected amount of time with which to deal.
That’s why it’s "the unexpected."
These interruptions kill your flow, destroy your focus, and force you to work on the urgent instead of the important.
So how do you deter, prevent, and deal with the problems these unexpected interruptions incur?
Leave Room to Accommodate the Unexpected
- Schedule your most important activities first. Work on NOTHING else finishing them. Work does NOT END until you complete them. Take care not to schedule too many important tasks on any given day. Your goal is to succeed, not fail.
- Schedule your urgent todo’s over free time blocks later in the day. If possible, prioritize your urgent todo's so you know which to work first.
- Build a project plan for things that will take more than one day to complete. Nothing complicated. Just list the critical tasks that need to get done and by when. This is your plan. If all the tasks in your plan were concluded today, your project would be done. If that’s not the case, your project plan is not complete. Once you have the plan, schedule your most important things in the coming days/weeks so your time is blocked.
- Completely book your entire day today. Go ahead, fill in those open time slots. Today is the day you need to work. Today you have to get shit done.
- But don’t completely book your entire week. You need room to accommodate the unexpected. Start with 80% scheduled. If you get behind two weeks in a row, drop back to 75%. Drop again two weeks later if it’s still not working. Rinse and repeat until you find your sweet spot.
That’s it. Schedule your important activities first. Fill in your open calendar slots with urgent tasks. Build a project plan for anything that requires a few days of important work. Completely book your entire day, but leave your week open to accommodate the unexpected.
Give it a month to find your groove. You will still find yourself interrupted daily, but hopefully, you’ll feel more in control of your schedule and find yourself with more time to focus on the important instead of the urgent.
About the Author
Co-Founder | Chief Interruption Specialist
Mike Mehlberg battles productivity orcs, focus trolls, and organization goblins all day. He'd spend more time on his bio, but needs to focus on being more productive at the moment. Email him if your business is an unfocused, disorganized, counterproductive mess at firstname.lastname@example.org.