To be at your sharpest, you need to cut the distractions and interruptions. Here are a few ways to do it.
How many times have you sat down at your desk only to be interrupted?
When I'm at the office, chances are good someone is after me for something. I get it--that comes with the territory of running a business. But there are times when I simply can't afford the interruptions, and neither can you. After all, if you're not executing on the things your company needs to succeed, you're going to fall behind.
From setting office hours to going offline, I've found creative ways to stay sharp and focused. Here's how you can, too.
Get off the Internet.
When you're at work, work. The Internet is just a distraction. When I'm in the office, I don't shop online, check Facebook, or even open anything related to my personal life unless it's critical. I keep separate Gmail accounts, one for LearnVest and another for home. And I don't chat with family or friends unless it's totally necessary.
Get a routine.
Having a really clear routine allows me to be more efficient--no matter how hectic my life becomes. So I do things like pack both my breakfast and lunch, so I don't have to step away from the office. I also have a go-to restaurant for meetings with clients so I know what to expect in terms of the service and how long it's going to take.
Always come prepared.
My life is all about being prepared. Every night before going to bed, I do three things: check the weather, check my calendar, and write down three things I need to do the next day. If it's going to rain, I'll pack an umbrella. If I'm hosting a conference, I'll lay out a dress. Life is too busy to be distracted by little things, so try to limit them as much as you can.
Structure your time.
At LearnVest, we encourage our summer interns not to ask questions until 5 p.m. It might sound counter-intuitive, but by building in a time for more in-depth interaction, it means everyone on the team can stay focused and get work done during the day, and the interns learn how to prioritize their time. I've also created a master schedule that tells my team when I'm available to sign documents, hold meetings, and so on.
What are your tips for staying focused during the day?
ALEXA VON TOBEL is the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, the financial-management and lifestyle website. She was recently selected as one of Fortune's Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and highlighted in Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list of cool young entrepreneurs.