Tipsheet: Prime time

Prime time

Are you interrupted so often that you can never get anything done? Too often, our priorities are set by external stimulus, and not through intentional decisions. We focus on the urgent, not the important.

The key to addressing this issue is trainint… of those people around you. If people think that you will always answer your phone by the second ring, then they will always call you expecting that. If they know that your open door policy means "always available", then they will always barge in. Instead of enabling disruptive behavior, start enforcing better time management habits. Here are some ways to start:

  • Close your door at a certain time each day: this is your prime by-yourself working time
  • Schedule your entire day with specific, time-bound activities; this will help prevent tasks from expanding to fit all available time.
  • Answer and reply to emails only a few times each day. (eg don’t have them continuously go into your email box, or you’ll be tempted to deal with them… continuously.)
  • Set your phone to automatically go to voicemail, and turn your cell phone off. If it’s truly urgent, they’ll find a way to get a hold of you.
  • If you can, change your working hours slightly. Coming in earlier or staying later means less commuting time, and also fewer people interrupting you.

This week’s action item: Might you be the source of someone else’s interruptions and inefficiency? This week, before you reach out to anybody, ask yourself if it can wait until you can bunch your requests together. And then, if you’re ready for prime time, choose a 60-90 minute slot each week or (each day), and use the time for the truly important.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to
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Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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