Time Management: Distractions and Boundaries

by John Zajaros on February 25, 2010

One of the Biggest Challenges Most Entrepreneurs Face is in the Area of Time Management

The fact is, while most entrepreneurs, most business people online or offline, feel they simply don’t have enough time in the day to get everything they need to get done, done, they generally have more than enough time to get everything they would like to get accomplished, completed…and then some!

I frequently hear people exclaim:

“I’m buried! There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all of this to get done!”

“I’m swamped! I work 16 to 18 hours a day…and I still don’t get everything accomplished!”

And so on…..

You’ve heard them all! You’ve probably said them more than once yourself…I know I have!

So, what’s the secret? How do some people seem to get so much done and still find time to play, vacation, and the like…making it all appear so easy?

Three words!

Distractions and Boundaries!

OK?

Everyone gets distracted!

Or do they?

Distractions are the constant interruptions that occur throughout the work day, interruptions that suck precious moments out of your day, a few minutes at a time, until they become a major impediment to efficiency and, ultimately, to success.

Distractions like:

“Have you got a minute?”

“This will only take a second.”

“I was wondering if I could get your input on something.”

“Can I ask you a quick question?”

And so on….

Dan Kennedy calls them Time Vampires! I think he is being kind!

I call them:

Royal pains in the #ss!

Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, interruptions are a part of life…but they don’t have to be.

Interestingly, I had major issues with setting boundaries because I work at home and my family was used to having unlimited access to me 24/7 while I was fighting a life-threatening illness. As a result, they were quite comfortable calling on “Dear Old Dad” at any time, day or night, if they needed help, needed to talk, or simply needed someone to hang with for a while. It was nice…then!

However, when I started to reclaim my life, when I began building businesses again, I ran into trouble…from day one!

You see, I was working from my home, first online, and later offline as well, and there were no rules, no boundaries. I was constantly interrupted by family, family so used to having unlimited access to me 24/7 that they really thought nothing of the constant interruptions that cost me hours each and every day.

For me the distractions were due to family.

For you?

For you it might be a co-worker or even a boss who thinks nothing of intruding while you are in the middle of a project, a thought, a sentence, an idea…whatever! Yes, even your boss!

The results are the same, the loss of efficiency and time…often leading to a very real and deep sense of frustration.

Whether working at home, at an office, or any other business setting, boundaries are crucial and they must be black and white. When it comes to boundaries, there is absolutely no room for gray!

There must be a literal sense of fear of reprisal for interruptions!

People must fear you!

After all, well intentioned or not, the “Time Vampire” is stealing from you just as certainly as if he or she reached into your pocket and stole your money…or reached into your head and stole your intellectual capital…your ideas.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been interrupted, still am on occasion, and have lost an idea, a train of thought absolutely crucial to what I was planning on writing next…or writing down for later development.

It is infuriating!

The biggest problem is that most family, friends, co-workers, and, yes, even employers just don’t get it. They don’t get it because they aren’t wired that way. Most people simply do not think in terms of the dollar cost of your time. More importantly, they don’t think in terms of the process, the very concept that ideas are fleeting and if interrupted they can vanish as quickly as they materialized, is foreign to them. The realization that ideas have a dollar value?

In the works of Donnie Brasco:

“Forget about it!”

So, you must be harsh, even threatening, as you guard your time.

If you don’t?

The Time Vampires will suck you dry!

Distraction is the antithesis of efficiency!

In order to be truly effective, you must deal with distractions, eliminating then from the workplace. If you succeed, and success only comes with hard and fast boundaries, you will find your efficiency and your production level enhanced exponentially. If you fail, and most do, you will be doomed to more 16 to 18 hour days, the sense of never being ahead of the game, and ultimately to frustration and burnout. No one can keep up 16-18 hour days indefinitely, particularly when coupled with the sense of frustration that comes from always playing catch up, always being just a bit behind, and never being in complete control of your day…because you are not!

The Time Vampires are!

There are a great many “gurus” out there who sell entire courses on time management, books on time management, CDs and DVDs on time management, even software developed to enhance your time management skills. Ultimately, most are useless! They simply do o not work!

I teach time management to students and business people and the first thing my students ask is:

Should I buy a day plannner?

Followed by:

Which online calender should I use? Google? Outlook? Which one?

My answer is always the same:

None of the above!

You see, time management isn’t about keeping track of time, it is the ability to remove distractions and optimize the time you have alloted to a specific task. Time management is often mistaken for what I call “time allotment” or scheduling; and, they aren’t even on the same page! Anyone can write out a schedule. Once you understand that time management is about wringing every second out of every moment dedicated to a specific event or task, then you are on your way to time management, efficiency, productivity, and a vacation!

It is up to you!

Distractions or hard and fast boundaries?

The Time Vampires or accountability for each and every moment of the day?

Scheduling and planning or time management?

It all begins with a decision. The decision is to never again allow people to intrude while you are working. The decision is to never again allow a Time Vampire to get close, to suck your life-blood, to steal your time!

It all begins by controlling and managing one thing:< .strong>

Managing distractions!

Do so and time will take care of itself!

John

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
216-712-6526 (home office)
440-821-7018 (cell)
Skype: johnzajaros1
excellencepaidforward@gmail.com (personal email)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mavis B. June 4, 2010 at 3:41 am

This article described my situation perfectly! I am constantly distracted by people who want just “a minute” so my thought process and focus is choppy. It frustrates me tremendously. Because of the many distruptions during my workday, I stay at work late for a peaceful environment. Even then, my phone rings entirely too much. I realize that some of the very people who insist on bothering me everytime a thought comes to their mind, guard their own time like it is a precious comodity. Selfish, indeed. I’ve got to learn how to do the same!

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coachz June 8, 2010 at 12:35 am

I’ve heard people like that referred to as Time Vampires! Mainly because they suck the most precious resource we have from us, our time! Set boundaries, don’t be afraid to unplug the phone or, at the very least, turn off the ringer. And do not look at your email first thing in the morning. Set a time, hard and fast, and stick to the boundary you set for yourself. It works!

Most important of all? Make sure the people you come in contact with day in and day out, even (especially) family, know that you are on a mission to reclaim your life, and your time has just become the most precious commodity you own and can offer…because it is. Let them know that if they want some of it, the interruption better be well worth your time!

Thanks for commenting Mavis and thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog! Please, stop back anytime!

John Zajaros
excellencepaidforward@gmail.com (personal email address)

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Larry L. April 24, 2012 at 3:26 am

When someone approaches me with a problem that is urgent, I always ask them to send me a note, either on paper and left on my desk or by Email, outlining the problem and suggesting what they think might be a good solution or two. If they are approaching me about it, you can bet they have been thinking about it longer than I have, and are probably in a better position to offer a solution, they just need my power or authority to implement a solution, or reassurance that I will stand beside them in this effort. Everyone who works with me knows that I see my role as a leader to coordinate, rather than solve problems or implement solutions; I trust that they are the right people for their jobs and will do a good job. My motto is, “If this works, you are fantastic! If it fails, the buck stops here.”

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