Routine tasks like reading/answering email, voicemail, and phone calls can easily hijack your day. Regain control by experimenting with these approaches.
Most people respond to the most persistent or most recent requests they receive. Instead of using your days to automatically respond to the priorities of others, set your email system to open to your calendar (not your email). That’s a sure way to start your day focused on your priorities.
Set a Timer
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re in your inbox. Set a timer on your phone when you start reading email and keep it where you can see it. One strategy is to spend 30 minutes at the start of your day, during lunch, and at the end of your day, as well as 15 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon. That’s almost 2 hours—isn’t that enough?
And if you keep email open and respond while you’re doing other things, you are wasting a lot of your time. Studies show that it takes about 25 minutes to get back to a task once you’re interrupted. Multitasking has consistently been proven inefficient regardless of how much we wish differently.
Train people to respect your time. Just because someone shows up at your door doesn’t mean you need to accommodate them right then. Be strategic with your time. Respond based on your priorities and schedule. Tell them you can’t do x right now but can get back to them at x time. You’ll need to manage their expectations and help them manage their own time better by being clear.