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6 Tips for Working Through Distractions

Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot : FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being back to work after Hurricane Sandy with my whole team has been a great morale booster.  So happy everyone made it in and I could see all their familiar faces — it’s one more sign that life is returning back to normal.

But it’s easy to get distracted with all the war stories being tossed around.  Plus — many people have to deal with insurance claims (myself mostly) and worries of childcare, heat, hot water and power at home.  So getting actual work done is quite a challenge.  Here’s some tips:

1.  Tune out: I’ve gotten very good at this over the years from working in busy news rooms but it does take some practice.  Engage for a bit and listen to all the stories from your coworkers but then at some point you have to mentally check out.  This will allow you to focus on tasks in front of you.  Sometimes headphones will help — I suggest blasting Dave Matthews Band or your favorite to drown out sounds around you.   Read more

Making an Ignore List

L is for Lists

L is for Lists (Photo credit: Swiv)

Sometimes even more important than a to-do list is an ignore list. I just made one this weekend actually. I wrote down all the to-dos that I wanted to accomplish. Then I reevaluated this list.

Sure I wanted to finish the slides for a presentation I’m doing in December…but it didn’t need to get done right now. Doing that task would push other more important tasks to the bottom of the pile. So I added it to my ignore list. This doesn’t mean I’ll never get to it – it just means that I don’t need to get to it right now. So I’m ignoring it this weekend.

Doing this will help you to prioritize and really look at each to-do individually. If you don’t have the drive, resources or time to complete that task right now — don’t. Put it on your ignore list. Eventually you can move it to your to-do list and get it done.

Toss or Keep Your Lists?

It’s always so interesting for me to hear how other people manage their to-do lists.  For instance — I thought everyone kept their lists after crossing everything off — just like I do.  Apparently that’s not the case.  A lot of people toss their lists as soon as they’re done!

I Keep All My Lists!

For me — I like to keep all my work to-dos in Steno pads and keep them in my desk.  Each day before I leave work I write a new list for the following day.  I run through the next day in my head and list out every phone call, followup email, meeting and shoot I need to take care of the next day.  But even when I fill up the pad — I keep it in my desk…just in case.

Sometimes I have to refer back to a note I made on a page or remember what I was doing on a particular day.  I just like to have a record of my life — even if it’s a scratched out, doodled on version.  Apparently so does Karen Rizzo (no relation) — as she told her memoir, “Things to Bring, S#!t To Do” entirely in lists!

Many People Toss Them

But there are some people who throw out their Post-its the second they accomplish whatever goal they set for themselves.  I guess this is a way of physically getting the task out of your way so you can clear your head and move onto the next task.

So what about you —  toss or keep?