Take your time

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When I was a boy, I always wanted to rush through my homework to get to something I thought was more interesting. My mother was forever reminding me to “Take your time. Do it right.” That’s still good advice.

There are lots of things you can do in the cracks in your day. You can check email, sign letters, file documents and do a host of other things in segments of as little as a couple of minutes. There are times when you can engage in the great sport of the Digital Age: multitasking. But sometimes you need to take enough time to do an important job right.

Analyzing people issues, working on important projects, or drafting a key report are a few of the activities that require substantial blocks of uninterrupted time. Both of those criteria are important.

Substantial means ninety minutes to two hours for most folks. That’s the time that research tells us we need to ease into a project, do significant work, and wrap things up.

Uninterrupted time means just that. No visitors. No phone calls. No email. No text messages.

You might want to consider the rule Raymond Chandler had for his writing time. He set aside time for writing. Then he honored that time by using it for writing and nothing else. In practice, that meant he didn’t have to write, but he couldn’t “do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at a magazine, or write checks.”

To make this work, you’ll need to be ruthless about setting the time aside and then enforcing the “no distractions” rule. That won’t be easy, but the improved results you get will be worth it.

Boss’s Bottom Line

People issues and important work demand blocks of uninterrupted time if you want to do them well.

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