Time Stealers

Remember my post Are we time poor?

Well that got me thinking about ‘time stealers’.

Time stealers are what I call interruptions which take us away from what we are meant to be doing.

For example, message alerts, a knock at the door or remembering something else we need to do. We deal with these with the best intentions of getting back to the main task at hand, but often, more and more time stealers pop up.

Imagine being a warrior with a shield to bat away all those time stealers away. The thing is, it is hard to stop them all, even our own thoughts can become time stealers, so we can’t even blame anyone else (how annoying!)

Here are some ways to reduce time stealers when you need to use your time for something specific, a work task, cleaning or enjoying some time to yourself.

· Silence the alerts on your phone/tablet/computer. I often just put my phone on silent or airplane mode for that time. If I’m at work and have an urgent deadline, I’ll close my email down so that I don’t get sucked into the email vortex.

· Ask people (nicely) not to interrupt you during the time you have allocated. It helps to ask them if they need anything from you at that time or if they can speak to you at an agreed time. In one of my previous, jobs we used to call this a ‘red flag’.

If you needed to time with no interruptions from colleagues, you would stick the red flag on your computer and everyone knew what that meant. Our red flag was made of cocktail sticks and red coloured paper but was very effective.

· Be somewhere else. If you are at work, try sitting at a different desk or office where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Or even work from home (if your job allows it) you don’t want to be classed as AWOL, that would not be wise).
· If you already work from home, you may need to avoid household distractions… that leaky tap, knocks on the door, in which case try working from a shared office space, a coffee shop, the park. Anywhere you think will be a good environment for you to still be productive.

· If a time stealing thought pops into your head, like ‘oh gosh I forgot to ring xxx’ the ideal would be to jot it down on your to do list, remember those? Or if it is urgent, stop and allocate a short amount of time to do it.

Hopefully these are helpful and stop you becoming a victim of time theft. Do share, if you have any tips you use to avoid time stealers.

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