I love making lists. I must secretly want to be Dave Letterman or something, because as soon as I get to put numbers beside my points I get a little shiver (the thrill kind, not because I´m cold). With that in mind, here are 6 things you should try to help you get back in control of your time. To whet your appetite, the list will be split over two days. Some may work for you, some may get you thinking, and some will just be a waste of your time, but there´s no way of knowing which will be which until you try:
1) Unplug your phone — Turn it off, mute it, send it directly to your voice mail — do whatever you have to do as long as it doesn´t ring. On a day that the phone is ringing a lot, it feels like you can´t get anything done because you are always being interrupted. The problem with phone calls is that the caller gets to determine when you get interrupted. By ignoring your calls and letting the caller leave a message, you are taking back the privilege of choice. I´m not naÃ¯ve enough to suggest that you should do this all the time (though some people do), but trying it once in a while keeps phone calls in perspective, because it reminds you that the world keeps spinning if you don´t answer the phone immediately.
2) Leave your cell at the office — Ever feel like your cell phone puts a leash around your neck and drags you around at its whim. That´s because it probably does. Cell phones are great because they let you talk anywhere, but they can be terrible because they let people talk to you anywhere. And at anytime. Some of that may be part of your job and difficult to escape, but some of it happens just because you let it happen. Try leaving your phone at the office one day. You might feel relaxed like you never knew possible. More likely, though, you´ll get a better sense that not being there to answer your phone day and night might be possible, and even preferable.
3) Just say no. Three times — Part of the reason you feel like you have no time is because you say yes every time that someone asks you to do something, whether you have the time or inclination to do it or not. Part of the reason why people keep asking you to do things is because you always say yes. One of the hardest concepts for people to accept is that when you tell someone you don´t have time to help them right now, you aren´t telling them that you hate them. And, unless they have a whole set of strange issues, they won´t think that you hate them, either. Offer an alternative, give a suggestion, but just say no. You´ll be surprised how easy it is, and how much time it saves.