This excerpt is from a recent issue of David Allen’s “Productive Living” newsletter. It’s free and sent about every 4 weeks. You’ll find essays from David, thought-provoking quotes, and productivity tips you can use every day.
Is it possible to still be productive when you feel like you are drowning in a culture of interruptions? You bet. But, the strategies won’t come from traditional time-management approaches. My Food For Thought this month shares my approach to interruptions and how to effectively manage them versus how to just tolerate them.
All the best,
DAVID’S FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I often get this question/pushback as I’m teaching: “All this personal productivity methodology sounds fine and good, but what about all those interruptions that plague me during my day?”
There are plenty of traditional “time-management” suggestions about dealing with “time wasters.” But I’d rather not waste time dealing with time wasters. For most of the people I interact with, the standard tips are either self-evident and in play, or impossible.
So I don’t spend a lot of time on time management tips. Not that they don’t have value—many of them do. But there are a billion exceptions to the rules. I have a more radical suggestion. Two actually.
1. Keep the inventory of everything you have to do current, complete, effectively organized, regularly reviewed, and instantly retrievable at a moment’s notice, while maintaining regular thinking about the projects and bigger things that you really want to accomplish. Then you can much more confidently and maturely differentiate between inappropriate disturbances and unexpected opportunities or useful interactions as they show up.
2. Get your act together about how easily and quickly you can take in any input, store it safely, and effortlessly glide back to whatever you were or now need to be doing, without having to process or complete it in that moment, knowing it will get handled at a better time.