When you have a home office and two kids, it’s virtually impossible not to try and do 5 things at once. After all, you have two hands, 12 emails, two conference calls, two mouths to feed, a deadline to meet and of course…you absolutely have to go pee, STAT, because your post-baby bladder is never on your schedule.
It seems like even when I try to focus on one thing at a time, inevitably five other things are vying for my attention. Here’s what I’m doing to try and stay focused and kick the multitasking habit. Hopefully these tips will help you, too.
- DITCH THE PHONE. When I’m with family, out to dinner, trying to spend quality time with my kids, etc., I ditch my phone. iPhones are distracting. There are emails, tweets, Facebook messages, Words With Friends, all begging me to pay attention (look at me! look at me!), when I really should be focused on the people around me. Because ditching my phone is easier said than done, I often hand it to my husband when we sit down so he can hold it hostage.
- MAKE A LIST, PRIORITIZE AND DON’T DEVIATE. I’ve become a list cop, slapping my own wrist when I break the rules. When I sit down to my desk, I make a list, in priority order, and I do everything in my power to knock out each thing in order. When I get pulled into another task– I put that on the list and go back to it, so I can stay on course. Staying on course also often involves ignoring my phone, sometimes my email. Email = a distraction trap. Check it before you start on your list and after you’ve finished the first task, then again after you knock out the next task.
- MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS. Skype, IM and chatting might seem like they can be productive, but they just don’t work for me. I find them distracting, so I don’t have them running unless I need to for a meeting. Also on that list–Facebook and Twitter. Let’s just make that the Internet in general. If I need to write, focus on budgets, etc., I’ll close my browser and not look back. Once that bad boy is open it’s like Pandora’s box. If all else fails, I turn off my monitor.
- SCHEDULE REGULAR MEETINGS. Instead of impromptu calls and emails that disrupt the list and my schedule, I try and schedule calls/meetings with people who need a lot of my time, so we can knock out several things in one slot of time.
It’s a work in progress, but so far I’m seeing a difference in how much more I can get done in the work day so I can have more time for the most important things on my list at night . . . like mastering the cake pop with my three year old!