Work Overload? Eliminate ‘People’ Distractions

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just lock ourselves away and get on with our work without distractions?

In most cases this isn’t an option, so instead we have to find other ways to eliminate distractions.

As an assistant one of our biggest ‘distractions’ is the people around us. How many times do your colleagues stop by for a chat? How often are you asked, “When you’ve got a minute can you just…”?

It can be difficult to find a way to minimise the impact other people have on your time but there are ways you can regain control tactfully.

Sometimes simply explaining your situation and how busy you are is enough.

I would love to stop and chat, but I am really working on a tight deadline to get this presentation finished. Let’s catch up soon?

For the more persistent distraction, or the ‘can you just’ people that won’t take no for an answer, a firmer approach might be needed.

Although I’d love to help, unfortunately on this occasion I can’t. I’m too busy preparing the presentation for next week’s conference and so all of my time needs to be dedicated to completing this.

Be honest with people. If you don’t have the time to chat or to help, then explain this to them.¬†Most people are reasonable and will let you get on with your work without further distractions.

How do you say ‘no’ tactfully? Why not comment below and share your ideas?

Want to develop more skills like this? Click here. 

Work Overload? Use Your Secret Weapon


Keeping a great to-do list is key to staying on top of your workload.

Great to-do lists are easy to maintain, thorough and fuel your productivity. They shouldn’t be viewed as another job or a tedious chore. They are your secret weapon to making sure you get things done.

Where do you start?

A very simple but big step up from pad and paper, Workflowy revolutionized the way I manage my to-do list.

Workflowy is a free online application which enables you to create lists within lists, drag and drop items, share lists, and access your lists from wherever you are (among other things).

By using Workflowy you can break your to-do list down into categories.
These might include:
  • Meetings
  • Correspondence
  • Weekly Tasks
  • Monthly Tasks

Each category then has its own sub-list:

  • Meetings
    • Marketing review
    • Paul Jones status meeting

Then each sub-list is populated with the detail:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Venue
  • Attendees

My to-do list includes everything I need to complete or progress. I review it three times a day; in the morning, afternoon and evening. Each time I cross off all the completed tasks and add any further points.

Using this method for your to-do list can also help you to realise just how much you have achieved across the day, how effective you are being and where things are going wrong if you haven’t achieved quite as much as you wanted.

Why is it so important?

Not only does keeping a thorough and up to date to-do list mean you know exactly where you are with your work, it also means you can share detailed updates with your executive. If your executive has a spare 5 minutes to catch up with you, your list can become your meeting agenda and you’ll have all the details you need at your finger tips.

So, give it a try. Use a to-do list for 1 week and see if, by the end of the week, you feel more in control.

Want a tutorial for Workflowy? Click here.

Want to find more ways to improve your efficiency at work? Click here.