Time management Monday: Subdivide your hours to improve your focus

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Here is a constant dilemma at work: people expect you to respond quickly to texts and emails, but you need to focus to get your work done. Replying to messages disrupts your flow and throws your concentration, but people get frustrated when you don’t reply quickly. You spend your whole day reacting, and end up feeling like you got nothing accomplished.

Here’s an idea: subdivide your hours so that within each hour you have a designated time to reply to messages, and the rest of the hour is for concentrated work. Then take a 5 minute break, and start again.

For example: at the top of every hour, designate 10 or 15 minutes (tops) to replying to messages. (You could even set an autoreply stating that you reply to messages at the top of every hour, so people can know when to expect to hear back from you.) Then when your time is up, shift your focus to your work. Make sure notifications are off so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages. Use the last 5 minutes of the hour to take a meaningful break (see lots of great ideas for 5 minute breaks here). Or you might find you prefer taking a 5 minute break after replying to messages, to clear your mind and return your focus to your work. Whatever works best for you.

By subdividing your hours, everyone gets replied to in a reasonable amount of time, and you have time to do your focused work. Everybody wins!

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