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How Are You Handling Information Overload?

If you are feeling bombarded with information and sales ads, and you want to unplug for awhile to regain your sanity, you might find these time management tips helpful.

It seems to be more difficult each day to keep up with the flow of information. Often I just tune it out, or selectively read what interests me the most.  This time of year we have an over abundance of sales ads to delete from our inbox, along with the usual flow of information.  If you are feeling like “less is more” and you want to unplug for awhile to regain your sanity, you might find these time management tips helpful.

Sam Parker, Publisher of JustSell.com and Co-Founder of GiveMore Media, sent me a newsletter recently in which he shared some tips on how he manages the distractions in his life.  The following tips are Sam's time management "affirmations":

Focus hours… Twice each work day, I will hold focus hours. From 9 am – 11 am and from 2 pm – 4 pm, I will become unavailable to anything but true emergencies. My phones will be off to anything inbound (no calls, no texts… airport mode on my cell). It’s only two 2-hour blocks of time where I’m unavailable to others. When I think I can’t do it and that people need to reach me because I’m so very important, I’ll remember that I’m not as important as I think I am. If I happen to notice on caller ID that someone’s calling me who I’ve been having a hard time reaching, of course I’ll make an exception.

Email… I will turn off email alerts and check it only twice a day (11:30 and 4:30). When I think that’s impossible because people need to reach me because I’m so very important, I’ll remember that I’m not as important as I think I am. (See below for letting people know how to get to you.)

Instant messaging… I will not do it. This would be like allowing someone to jump up on my desk anytime they want and interrupt my workflow (and I certainly don’t want to do that to anyone else). After all, I’m a grown-up.

Web… I will not use the web personally during my money hours (mine are between 8 am and 6 pm each salesday with a break for lunch). When this gets tough because of my addiction to distraction, I’ll remind myself again that I’m a grown-up.

Phone… I will not give my attention to my iPhone when people I know are around me. If it vibrates (a ringtone? please) when I’m in a face-to-face conversation I will do my best to ignore it and give it attention when I’m alone. Fortunately, when I’m in an airport, I generally don’t know a lot of people so I can dig into my phone all I want there (although I might miss out on some of those serendipitous moments I’ve had in the past where I’ve met some very interesting people and learned new things… hmmmm).

Proximity… I will turn my desk facing away from my door.

Television… I will not channel surf. If I want to watch something, I will watch that thing and that’s it. If I need downtime, I’ll read a book or something on the web (being careful here too, of course).

Commitment: When things get tough, I’ll remind myself that I want to succeed professionally, financially, and personally (better relationships, better knowledge). And, if I do these things, I’ll likely contribute more, make more useful things happen, earn more, and enjoy more as a result. (It’s a better bet.) When I make a mistake (break focus hours, check my email, look at the web, etc.), I’ll stop, re-commit, and remind myself I want to make good things happen (rather than living in a state of busy distraction and making less money).

Sam cautions that before you adopt such changes, that you make sure these tips fit your type of business and workflow. If your work really requires more attention to email or a phone, then adjust accordingly.  He also recommends that as you make these commitments, let others know (via your email auto responder, or below your email signature, and/or in a voicemail message) when they can expect a response from you.

Points to Ponder and Share:

What has worked best for you in terms of limiting the amount of distractions you encounter daily?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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