You start the day with the best of intentions. You have your to-do list in front of you, and you crank-start the first task and settle in.
A few moments go by and someone [drops by/calls/IMs/swoops in on a bullwhip] to chitchat about work, play, reality tv, or other.
They leave. You decide you better check your inbox. 9 new messages. Better run through those real quick, right?
Your to-do list weeps as your day ends and you just haven’t gotten everything done, but you’ve been super busy.
Are you productive or just busy?
You get to choose, you know.
Close your day by defining the next day’s most important tasks – the stuff that simply must get done tomorrow. Then prepare your workspace to begin immediately on the first of those tasks.
- Get to work.
- Start on task #1.
- Do not check email.
- Do not check voicemails.
- Finish task #1.
- You will feel the awesome.
Someone comes to your workspace and interrupts? Turn, and sincerely say:
“I’m so sorry. I’m really busy right now. Maybe you could shoot me an email, and I’ll follow* up later? Thank you.”
Very important – at the asterisk – begin to turn your back to them and get back to your task. Close the feedback loop before they get a chance to continue the discussion.
Obviously, mileage varies by discretion. If it’s your boss, you may not want to turn your back on her.
But you – get to choose. You are not held hostage to your email, your voicemail, or cubicle lurkers.
Work as part of a department? Last thing of the day – share your most important tasks of the next day with each other and encourage and review with each other throughout the day.
Soon, you’ll be shockingly productive and not simply busy all the time.