Merge's Blog

Having trouble getting things done? Kick the telephone and email auto-reaction

In my last strategy earlier this month in our series on getting things done, I told you about the importance of taking control of interruptions, specifically by other people.  But studies show that 44% of interruptions are actually self-induced.  In other words, people interrupt themselves almost as much as they are interrupted by external sources. So today’s tip for getting things done specifically addresses two self-induced interruptions – namely the telephone and email.

Kick the telephone and email auto-reaction

What do I mean by auto-reaction?  The innate response we have to the ringing of the phone, or the ding (or other sound) that heralds the arrival of an email.  Be honest, what happens when the phone rings?  Sure … we answer, or at least we lean over to check to see who is calling.  Even if you don’t answer, you’ve just interrupted yourself.  And what happens when you get that sound that tells you an email has just arrived?  Yes, you roll your chair over to see who it’s from. Self-induced interruption.

So, the solution.  Turn it off.  If it’s the phone, turn your ringer off while you’re working on something that requires your concentration.  Even better, send the phone directly to voice mail.  That way there’s no chance of being distracted at all.  If it’s email, turn the sound notification off.  There’s a toggle switch somewhere in your settings – find it and turn it off.  Now let’s be clear.  I’m not suggesting that you should no longer respond to phone calls and emails.  Quite the contrary. I’m saying that you should set them aside when you need to focus on getting things done, and then check them later, on your schedule, and not on someone else’s.  Take control of your own time and productivity!

If you’re interested in other strategies in this series we started at the beginning of this year on getting things done, you might enjoy these other recent posts.  The two most recent posts are:

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