Can an Interrupters Log Help You Get More Done?

Can an Interrupters Log Help You Get More Done?

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This is Week 38 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether keeping an interruptions log and making related changes could improve my productivity. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How an Interrupters Log Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me give myself grace. I am interrupted A LOT. Like really a lot. Between the door bell ringing (with delivery people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and neighborhood kids), my husband’s secretarial needs, and my kids’ homework and other requests for assistance, it’s a miracle I get anything done. I’m going to be much nicer to myself where productivity is concerned. Speaking of grace, please forgive the misspelling on the graphic.
  • Helped me recognize parenting issues. We do most of our homeschooling in the basement near a closet stocked with blankets. It does not matter if it’s toasty warm or that we have two blankets per person; fights over blankets constantly rage. Believe me, I didn’t wait until I had a week’s worth of blanket fights on my log to make a change. Blankets are no longer allowed in school! The funny thing was every time someone interrupted me, I wrote it down and the kids found my silent writing ominous.
  • Pointed out the need for order. My entire family likes to interrupt me, because I haven’t set limits. My husband is needing me to help him with his work frequently now, which is fine–but not on a right-this-minute basis. I need a set time to handle his office work. I also need to make sure my children understand not to rudely butt in when I am working with their siblings and not to pepper me with questions during time I’ve set apart for writing.

How an Interrupters Log Made Me Crazy This Week

  • It’s an interruption to keep a log. I really dislike logging things all day. However, the process really focused my attention on interruptions.
  • Not all interruptions are bad. I was running around in a tizzy preparing for a day of scrapbooking with friends. I planned to make a fabulous new dessert and to organize a huge project to scrapbook in one evening. My husband then declared that he really wanted to spend time with me. I was at the grocery store shopping for the fabulous dessert when I realized what I needed to do. I bought a dessert to bring and decided to work on a project that required no prep time. I spent the evening with my husband and thanked God for the interruption.
  • Didn’t use it for self interruptions. The ways we interrupt ourselves are probably the most harmful to our productivity — when we decide to take a quick peek at Facebook that turns into an hour. The log is supposed to be used to note these times, but I would have really been crazy trying to track all that. Tracking others’ interruptions was time-consuming enough.

Did an Interrupters Log Help Me Get More Done?

Yes. Doing away with the blankets in school helped us get more done. Taking steps to eliminate other interruptions by establishing office hours and a no-interrupt rule will help even more.

**UPDATE**

I don’t use a log and I don’t need one as much because I am completing critical work in the morning before the interrupters are up! But I think it’s a great exercise to point out problems.

Enjoy a Saner Christmas This Year

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 39

This week I’ll be testing project management. I will be using the Christmas Countdown Planner to get more done in preparation for the holidays.

The concept. Managing individual tasks is sometimes ineffective. I realized that where Christmas is concerned, I can benefit from a project management approach. Toolkit argues that you can’t manage what you can’t see. Having all my to-do’s and information related to Christmas in one place should help me manage my time better and get a head start on this busy season.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Choose a project to work on. If you’d like to get ready for Christmas, consider getting the Christmas Countdown Planner. ToDoist and Kanban can be used for project management. Here’s a link to a general project planning form if you like paper (from My Sense of Accomplishment). Or, consider managing your project with Evernote.

To see if Project Management worked for me, click here.

Are you on Google+?Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

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Can Computer Shortcuts Help You Get More Done?

Can Computer Shortcuts Help You Get More Done?

keyboard shortcuts, brainscape, productivityThis is Week 37 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether using computer shortcuts could help me get more done. I used the keyboard shortcuts app, added a browser extension, and started using a WordPress plugin to save time. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Computer Shortcuts Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Saved me from stupid time wasters. The Chrome extension to email webpages saved me lots of time. I do this on Chrome all the time on my phone, yet was copying and pasting URLs I wanted to email on my desktop. Dumb. I’ve used the email extension many times since adding it. The other dumb waste of time I was saved from was approving pings back to my own blog. I knew I was being ridiculous to put up with that, but had never taken the time to get a plugin that stopped self-pinging.
  • Serious fun. I recognized quite a while ago that productivity is a hobby for me. Learning new ways to save time on the computer is not only fun, but addicting! I really love the Brainscape app and am looking forward to mastering all the shortcuts.

How Computer Shortcuts Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Hard to break old habits. It’s been a challenge not to reach for the mouse as much. It’s kind of like changing to a car with a new location for shifting with lots of wasted movements.
  • Not all time savers yet. Because I keep reaching for the mouse, some time savers really aren’t. Opening a new tab with Control/Command T for example, takes more time for me than clicking the new tab button on Chrome because I have to stop and think. My hand automatically goes to the mouse.
  • Take time to find. The shortcuts that will save me the most time take time to research. For example, I had to find a new plugin to turn off self-pings because the old one hadn’t been updated. As with most hacks, you have to take time to save it.

Did Computer Shortcuts Help Me Get More Done?

Yes! The real benefits will take time to be realized, however. I need more time to change my mouse-loving ways and to find the right time savers for the way I work.

**UPDATE**

While I use the browser tab closing and a few other common keystrokes, I have to admit I haven’t continued to add keystroke habits to save time. That is probably because it takes time to create the habits.

 

productivity, download, interruptions, form, printable

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 38

This week I’ll be testing an interruptions log. By recording the when, who, and what of the interruptions to my work, I can prevent unnecessary interruptions. Okay, I can hear you laughing. I might be able to prevent some interruptions. Maybe.

The concept. Many interruptions we have to our work flow are internal and can be prevented by eliminating distractions like the phone, alerts, and websites. Internal interruptions can also be prevented by having systems in place for coping with them — a list of things to check out later, a Pomodoro timer, using Do it Tomorrow, etc.

Other interruptions occur because we haven’t scheduled focus work at the right times, haven’t discussed them with family or co-workers, or haven’t established boundaries (like phone being on Do Not Disturb or closing the office door).

Recovering from interruptions wastes valuable time.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read this Mind Tools article and download the free form for tracking your interruptions. Then implement the ways to handle interruptions based on what you learn.

To see if the Interrupters Log worked for me, click here.

Photo Credit

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

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