You can’t get quality work done in little drips. You need larger blocks of time. If you leave your phone one and email open when you’re working on things, you are setting yourself up for constant interruptions. Then you’re spending most of your time trying to get back on track so you can pick up where you left off.
The first step to solving this problem is to identify the major projects you have. Of these, what really needs to get done? How long would it take you to get it done if you were truly uninterrupted?
Let’s say you need to review a report and make some recommendations based on its findings. You have decided this is a priority project, so you set aside a 3 hour block on your calendar where you unplug from other tasks and focus just on doing that.
For longer projects, like writing a book, you may need to make recurring appointments—let’s say every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 8am to 11am. You’ll need to actually write those times onto your calendar on an ongoing basis so you don’t schedule other appointments during those times. It’s protected time, except for true emergencies. When other issues come up– as they will—sometimes you can fit them in around your previously scheduled blocks of dedicated time. Other times you’ll have to say no.
In some cases, a change of scene can help. Maybe you can work on a priority project at home or at the library, then show up at the office after lunch. You can then deal with accumulated email and calls in the afternoon. There are also ways to set your phone so that a spouse or an administrative assistant can ring through, but no one else can. Find some way to protect set-aside time.
More and more leaders I’m coming across have forgotten that you can’t accomplish big projects in little drips here and there. Instead, you must proactively schedule bigger blocks of time so you can make the contribution you’re supposed to make. That’s important… even if it means you’re not available 24/7.