Picture this: you’re writing a sales pitch and suddenly, you hear the ping of your phone announcing a notification. I bet you look and check if it’s important. Or you’re working on a report due imminently but can’t help glancing at each new email that arrives in your inbox. In both scenarios, you most likely have to re-read from the start of your document after each distraction in order to gather your thoughts and get back into the flow.Sound familiar?Most of us work this way. Even more so when we’re trying to build a business and have fingers in multiple pies with an ever-growing to-do list.

Research calculates that multi-tasking costs us as much as 20-40% of our daily productivity. Each of these interruptions and minutes wasted, when we have to backtrack and regain our thoughts, all add up throughout the day. Think you’re the exception and you can multi-task effectively? I wouldn’t bet on it…

There is, however, a simple and practical strategy to help overcome this struggle: Time blocking. Here’s how:

1. Be single-minded about your week’s priority.

The first step is to shake up your to-do list and commit to one priority task each week. Which task will have the greatest impact on your business once complete? A great way to do this is to start with your quarterly business goals and then break these into three monthly goals that therefore need to be achieved to keep you on target. Subsequently, break these monthly goals into weekly goals so you have an action plan for the quarter. Sounds super simple but I so often see this being missed. You can download a ready-made Goal Planner here.

2. Block off one-hour each day in your schedule.

The next step may take some getting used to before it becomes routine. Take a look at your schedule and choose a one-hour time slot that you can keep free each work day. Ideally, the time slot will stay consistent. Protect this time and mark it as a meeting in your calendar. You’ll probably want to set a reminder. Let everyone in your team know too that you won’t be available at this time – no matter how urgent.

3. Turn off all distractions.

Finally, each day, when this hour slot comes around, set yourself up to work with uninterrupted focus. Turn your phone to airplane mode, shut down email and slack, log off wifi (if possible) and go find a quiet spot away from your team. This is your most precious time to work on your week’s priority task. Remind yourself that anything pressing can always wait one hour.

You may struggle at first but like everything, the more you practice, the easier it will become to switch off and focus. Plus, you’ll get to see the benefits in your productivity each day – it will be akin to stealing an extra hour in the working day.

Katie Evans

Katie is a life and career coach working with clients to help them excel while being happy, healthy and well-balanced.

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