Use the last 30 minutes of your day to tidy your work environment, schedule your new tasks, and decide what is the #1 critical task to be completed tomorrow.
Start your day by turning off notifications from your email, message app, social media apps, and anything else that will grab your attention and proceed to practice #3.
Instead of checking email, complete your most critical task.
I know this is will not be easy. Email is seductive because we think there might be something more interesting waiting for us there. Resist the temptation and focus the first 96-minutes of your workday on your most critical task.
Why 96 minutes? You’ve probably heard of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule). This principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80% of your results. Twenty percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on.
20% of 8 hours is 96 minutes. Instead of wasting your day attempting to work on your critical task but never accomplishing that due to interruptions, give yourself the first 96 minutes of each day to complete what you need to. That accomplishment will energize you and give you more focus throughout your day. Try it and see if you don’t see a marked difference in your productivity.
You can now turn your notifications back on and check-in. If you need to reduce distractions throughout the rest of your day, turn notifications off and set a timer or reminder when to turn notifications back on or to check critical communications such as email.
Have a master list, but schedule everything.
Have you ever wondered why you never get everything done on your to-do list? If you leave a task on a list there is no impetus to do it. Instead, decide when you will do each task and schedule each into your calendar just as you schedule an appointment or a meeting.
When scheduling your tasks, group similar tasks. For example, make all of your Zoom meetings in one block of time, email responses in another block of time, and work on project tasks in another block.
Not sure how long a task will take? The next time you do a routine task, time it.