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How to Manage Your Day When It Is Filled With Interruptions

You've followed all the “rules” about planning your day and work hard to keep it on track. But no matter what you do, it seems like every day turns out the same — you're there for ten hours, gobble down lunch at your desk and complete five (or none!) of the twenty items on your to do list. It can be depressing. In the long term it will wear on you and and make you less effective overall.

Today's hectic business environment is a tough one. Not only do you have to get your work done, you have to help your team achieve its goals. But between task and team member interruptions — not to mention those unexpected calls from the boss — your work day can be a very hectic one.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Before you go any further, take some time to assess what's going right and what's going wrong with your day. You can't fix what you don't know, so the best thing to do is find out. The way to do that is to understand what's happening during your day. And you can find that out by using a Time Log to track your time. Get your Time Log here.

Here's how to use it.

  • Track your time daily for one week. At the end of each day, analyze what happened that day. See if patterns exist around certain times of the day, people or tasks. Make a note of what you discovered.
  • At the end of the week, look at all of your time log sheets along with the notes you captured. What does it tell you? Are there special times of the day you are particularly busy? Certain people that require more of your time than others? Tasks that always take longer than the time you allocated?
  • Adjust your schedule to accommodate what you discovered. Set up your day to allow extra unplanned time during the periods you found that were very busy. Allocate more time for the people and tasks that require it according to your schedule.

The key is to modify your schedule according to what's happening in your day so you get more productivity out of it. Pay close attention to the things that are derailing your schedule and adjust accordingly. It will help your work life be a whole lot more satisfying and less stressful.

Your entire team can do this exercise. Then you can help each other identify the hot spots and manage them to achieve team goals.

This topic was originally featured in my weekly Team Building Tips newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Get timely team building tips and tools straight to your email box by signing up here.

About Denise O'Berry

Denise O'Berry is President of The Small Business Edge Corp, a small business consulting firm. A small business owner since 1996, Denise understands the challenges facing small business. She's lived them herself and helped hundreds of clients work through the frustrations, fears, and joys of owning a small business. Denise is the author of Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success, a practical guide about keeping the cash in your business - where it belongs. Find more resources and tips at deniseoberry.com and askteamdoc.com