Tools of the Trade, Virtual Assistant, WAHM

riding wild donkeys and other interruption eliminators

Your to-do list is a mile long, you have company coming in a few days, there are several business deadlines looming and no matter how hard you try you feel like a cat on ice.

You try to focus on the task at hand, but it seems like there’s sometimes new dragging your attention away every few minutes. Our busy lives are filled with equally busy social networks, work-from-home demands, and family needs. But when you are struggling to stay on task try using these interruption eliminators to bring peace and focus back into your day.

Interruption Eliminators for Work From Home Parents

Unplug The Chatter: If you have Skype, Facebook, Twitter or Google Chat open, close it immediately or set your status to “away” or “do not disturb. We all know that the little “ping” alert of a new message is irresistible and if there’s an emergency, people will find you through another means. These technology interrupters are one of the most common time robbers for anyone trying to get work done.

As most of you already know, I am a huge fan of Leonie Dawson and her Shining Business Academy. One thing she talks about in her delightful butterflies and unicorns ways is something called Riding the Wild Donkey. The first time I heard this, I went, “HUH?” But now, I totally get it and schedule Wild Donkey Days at least twice a week.

Riding the Wild Donkey

The idea behind Riding the Wild Donkey is to take your own wild donkeys (priority tasks or things that have been hanging over your head FORever) and “riding” them until you are DONE. Translation: knuckle down, turn off all distraction and WORK THAT TASK all the way through until it is DONE.

In Leonie’s words:

Leonie Dawson

My point: unplug from the chatter, saddle your wild donkey, and git ‘er done!

Silence Email: Just as the above chat options are distracting, so is the constant lure of wondering “if something good just popped into my inbox.” I swear the lure of something “possible new and interesting” in my Inbox is like a siren song.

First, if you have email notifications that result in a little flash or beep, turn that off. Every single time that your eye gets drawn to the flash it distracts you and causes you to lose your train of thought. Even if it’s a split second, it adds up and cuts into your productivity.

The Phone: Just because someone calls don’t mean you have to answer. Somewhere along the line, we forgot that telephone service was meant to be a convenience in our lives. If you are eyeball deep in a project and your phone rings, use your Caller ID to quickly determine if the call is a priority or not. Keeping the phone by your desk so you don’t have to get up and run to answer it is another way to eliminate this distraction. If your phone has a tendency to ring often, turn off the ringer while you’re working so you can focus without interruptions.

Kids and Pets: Ah yes, our kids. They are the light of our lives and our reason for being, but they can be one of our bigger distractions. Wahm.com suggests this:

The easiest way to deal with the distractions from the kids is to work in blocks, entertaining the children throughout the day, and working through naps. Allow them to play quietly alongside you while you work, and offer rewards for good behavior.

As for pets, sometimes they can be as needy as a child so encourage Freddy to go outside for a while for some fresh air or enlist one of your kids to take him for a walk. My dog (yes, that’s Freddy) is a complete couch potato and the perfect work-from-home buddy….but he still has his “I need to pee” schedule that we need to adhere to.

One of the quickest ways to lose your sense of focus and get disorganized is to take on too much. Set aside specific work times and do your best to stay on task until your project is finished. Once you commit to uninterrupted time and implement your interruption eliminators you may be amazed at how productive you become.

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