Last week we talked about multitasking and the associated "time costs" of splitting your attention between projects, on-going tasks, and interruptions. With up to 40% of your time wasted in a juggling act, it's prudent to give some consideration to developing new habits, both for productivity sakes as well as for your own sanity!

Identify Categories:
Begin with identifying categories for the "typical" activities in your day. Some examples of categories would be:
- incoming and outgoing calls
- email
- marketing
- website updates
- bookkeeping
- time with clients/customers
- networking
- writing content and articles
- social media
- product development

Label Blocks of Time
Once you've got your categories identified, break the days of the week into "blocks" of time and "label" them with your categories.

Here is an example:

Monday
8-8:30am
Email and phone calls

8-9am
Client projects---Turn off email and put the phone on voicemail

9-11am
Return phone calls and email---Put away other projects

11-12pm
Social media updates

12p-1pm
Lunch away from office

2-4pm
Client projects---Turn off email and put the phone on voicemail

4-5pm
Phone and email---Put away other projects

On Tuesday you might insert a block of time for bookkeeping. On Wednesday use a block of time for website updates. Perhaps on Thursday a block of time goes into product development or content creation, and Friday could be allocated to networking and marketing.
Your days will probably vary, and your weeks might vary as well. That's OK, just plan it out. In my own business model, I see clients Monday through Thursday but Friday is exclusively for content creation, marketing work, and product development work. I also "block" client appointments so that larger chunks of time are open during my day for social media updates, networking opportunities, email updates, and working with my own coach. Every third Thursday afternoon is dedicated to my Master Mind group. It's a beautiful model and has increased my productivity (and profit margin) exponentially.

Customize the Process:
Use whatever design and method works for you; create a visible reminder, set a timer, and work with your model until it becomes routine. Some people use a white board or wall calendar and color-code their time blocks and the tasks allocated to them. Some prefer using Outlook or an Excel document. There are endless possibilities and it's important to find the one that works best for you.

The Key to Success:
Let's face it, interruptions like the phone and our chronic tendency to check email are a huge diversion. The key to success in this system is to turn off email and the phone during your "project" times. Also, train your Virtual Assistant, family members, and peers to expect voicemail and a slightly delayed response time. Your customer service policy doesn't have to include instant access to you at all times. It's reasonable to say that calls will be returned within the workday or within 24 hours. Trust me, your service and your business relationships will improve once you feel grounded and focused.

Give this process a try and tell us about your wins and stumbling blocks here on One-Person-Business!