The other morning I experienced the luxury of sitting in the lounge of the service department where I bought my car, which was due for an oil change.
I say luxury because I was told the service would take 45 minutes to an hour. I deliberately did not turn on the Wi-Fi and no one knew where I was. During that time I opened my computer and began writing an article I absolutely had to turn in at day’s end.
The past few weeks I had been busy with other deadlines and constant interruptions. Sometimes, I simply spent time responding to emails or chatting with colleagues, avoiding writing the article.
By the time the technician approached me and told me my car was ready, I had completed my story.
Why was I successful? I followed a few basic rules to keep myself focused.
Turn off notifications. Because I had no Internet, I wasn’t receiving emails, which kept me from responding each time a new one arrived in my inbox. In the office, you can simply turn off the sound. Even better, you can close the application until you have met your deadline.
Avoid distractions. At the car dealership, no one knew me so no one came over to where I was working to chat. That’s not always so easy at the office. If you have a door, close it. If you work in a cube put up a sign that lets everyone know you have a deadline.
Make a list. Sometimes I get distracted because I’m thinking about all of the other things I still have to do. To avoid this, take a few minutes and make a list. This way you won’t worry about forgetting something that is critical and you can focus on the thing you need to do at the moment.
Set a timer. The technician told me I had no more than an hour before my car would be ready. I opened a blank Word document, reviewed my notes and began writing the story. Tick tock… the clock was ticking so I kept writing and didn’t worry about typos or transitions. I put the story down and discovered I still had some time left so I went back and did a quick edit. By the time the technician approached, the story was finished.