Lead with Time Management: How to Manage Daily Distractions

There are a plethora of books and ways to be effective with time management. Yet, leaders find themselves in the same spot every day … being pulled into the fires or distractions of the moment. The reality and truth of success is to maintain your focus on the vision and the core strategy to actualize it. You must be selective with your focus. In addition, if others support or impact this vision/goal/dream/outcome/expected result, you must constantly nurture these relationships. There is no way around it without compromising your ability to be an effective, proactive leader.

To maintain your focus, be mindful of your choices and consider the following:

  • Does this ‘fire’ serve the vision or strategic plan? Or is it a distraction?
  • Am I having the right conversations with all constituents who are a part of this vision and plan?
  • Am I choosing the right leadership behaviors which align?
  • Am I getting pulled away from the vision for the “side trip mind candy” of being overly involved in unnecessary areas?
  • Am I clear on what is required of me to grow and change to lead the vision?
  • Am I living it every day?

Time Management Best Practices:

1. Identify Three Items that Need to Get Done

If at the end of the day you are feeling fuzzy or depleted and unsure about whether you made a difference or not, ask yourself what three things do I want to accomplish that will improve my team, our results and success of the organization? What would these three pieces be? Honing on the specific three that need to get done to support the forward momentum is critical. 

2. Time Blocking

Set aside two hours where there are no distractions, where you can spend time writing, thinking, developing and working. Prepare yourself in advance of this moment by outlining the outcome you’re looking for and the items you need to do. Leave yourself 15 minutes at the end to review what you accomplished and the next five steps you need to take when you work on the project again (this will help the following start-up time be most effective). Wherever your brain energy is the most focused, this is when you want to time block because the distractions are not in the picture.

3. Manage Communication and Digital Tool Distractions

Leaders are constantly bombarded by text, email, communications on tools like Slack, Basecamp and others. There are so many tools out there pinging us and connecting to us. These tools are not meant to manage you, they are meant to be tools to make you more successful. Make sure you respond to them, but be mindful of when you look at them. Technology tools are a gift, however, when they run you, they – and you – are not effective.

4. Practice Balance and Connection

When the noise gets to be too much, find a way to practice balance and connection. We are meant to be engaged learners, and when we are with people or in nature, we tend to be more balanced. Some ideas are:

  • Meditation
  • Volunteering
  • Connecting with people in-person at a class, soup kitchen or organization like Habit for Humanity
  • Connecting with nature
  • Join a meet up group
  • Painting
  • Go for a walk to meet neighbors

5. Prioritize Personal Communications

Make sure you are present for people who need you and do it in a way that honors you, your family, and your business. All of us have connections with others who require interaction, and being mindful of managing those conversations can greatly impact your day. When there are times at work that you can’t respond to them, make sure they are aware of a backup plan.

6. Off-Load Your Day

Whether on your commute home or going for a walk after work, it’s important to give yourself a little space to reflect on your day. Think about what went well, what you are proud of and what you want to accomplish the following day.