Distractions and interruptions can certainly derail the most carefully planned day.  Having a clear (and workable) plan to overcome these distractions can help make anyone’s day more productive.

But sometimes, the obvious solutions just aren’t “doable” for YOU.  Sometimes you need to adapt to fit your personality and lifestyle.

Yesterday I explained how a Parking Lot can help to reduce internal distractions.  Yet, the very thoughts on that were parked on the parking lot created even MORE distractions.  (To see the solution to the solution, click here!)

Today I’m going to explore external distractions – specifically phone calls.

Let me set the stage . . .

You realize that in order to really make headway on a project, you need to work uninterrupted.  No distractions of any kind – email, phone, text, drop in’s, etc.

But, you are a professional and you pride yourself on timely communication.  When a client reaches out for help – you immediately respond.   When a colleague wants to run an idea past you, you make yourself available that day to brainstorm.

Imagine what 3, 4, 5, or even 10 of those phone calls and text messages are doing to your “focus” during the day?

Yet, how do you turn off the phone so you can focus?  What if it is an emergency?

Great question!  This really is a common scenario.

You KNOW that by turning off the phone you can concentrate.

Yet, you worry that you will “miss something important” while it’s off.

So instead, you decide to glance at the caller ID when the call comes in, then if it is “not an emergency” you will call the person back later during your scheduled phone call time.

Wonderful in theory.  However, you are human, and once someone leaves a message you most certainly want to listen to the message.

[Tweet “You are only human! Of course you want to listen to the message!”]

Then, since you listened to the message, you might as well call them back . . . and down the rabbit trail you go.

Instead try this:

  • Think about your communication plan.  In the normal course of a day, how quickly is acceptable (or what is the time frame  you are comfortable with) for you to respond to clients?  1 hour?  4 hours?  24 hours?  (Remember, many times if you are in a client meeting you aren’t taking phone calls.  So  you may be unavailable for an hour or two at a time.)[su_spacer size=”30″]
  • Block off “communication” times to fit this time frame.  If you are comfortable returning calls within a 4  hour time block, then schedule “communication” time every 4 hours.[su_spacer size=”30″]
  • Identify what constitutes an emergency. (A call from  your spouse or a sick child or . . .)[su_spacer size=”30″]
  • Create a back-up plan for those emergencies.   An email flagged as urgent.  Or an “emergency contact” of someone else that works in  your building, or a neighbor (someone that your “emergency” can get a hold of).  Or . . .[su_spacer size=”30″]
  • Change your outgoing message to reflect your new communication policy.  “Your message is important to me and I will return all phone calls prior to 5 pm.”  People just want to know what to expect![su_spacer size=”30″]
  • Turn your phone on silent, place it across the room, and work on your project.

Now – you are not “tempted” to answer the call, listen to the voice mail, or take the call live – because your phone is on silent (so you can’t hear it) and it’s across the room (so you can’t see it.)

You are being proactive – you have a plan for when you are going to listen to messages and how people can get in contact with you in case there is an emergency.

You are applying focused and diligent action towards accomplishing your goals!

Many, many, many books exist about time management and working efficiently and effectively.  The key to success is to be able to take the information in these books and adapt them to fit your life!  Are you looking to live a life where each day is productive, rewarding, and fun?  You can!  Schedule a time to chat and figure out how!

What is your favorite “reducing phone distractions strategy”?  Please post below.  AND – be sure to stop back when I delve a bit deeper into the importance of self-care.


Image courtesy of  patrisyu / freedigitalphotos.com