Most of us would like to be more productive and be able to get more done. One of the single biggest problems we all face daily that inhibits our productivity and time management is interruptions and distractions. Or, more accurately, how well we deal with interruptions and distractions.

Distractions can come in many, many forms and can even easily distract ourselves.

I mostly work from home which means I can spend all day working with the radio or music on if want to. However, despite being a great music lover and owning a large amount of music, I often have no music on because sometimes I find it distracting. I almost never turn the radio on as I can easily find myself listening to the talking, news and ads rather than working. The same goes for my favourite CDs. Instead, I often listen to instrumental music or classical music in the background music as there are no lyrics to distract me.

Obviously this depends entirely on the level of concentration required. I find writing, coming up with new ideas and technical/IT tasks usually requires the most concentration, whereas it would be no problem listening to the radio whilst doing other tasks requiring less active thought.

This is only one example of how distractions can reduce our productivity.

Whether you work from home or from an office, you are highly likely to have your work interrupted by emails and phone calls. And with mobile phones and all the other portable devices available, we can now be contacted pretty well any time and any place.

Technology is designed to make thing happen quicker, improve communication and make us more efficient, but is this really always the case? Does it always help us, or can we effectively become slaves to technology rather than technology serving us?

Most of us are now so dependent on the instant communication of email and used to responding immediately, that it can take up a lot of the working day. But is it really necessary to respond immediately?

If you work in an office you'll also most likely have co-workers and a boss who will interrupt you. It may not be possible to do much about those types of interruptions, but it is worth thinking about how we handle emails.

It can be difficult to avoid interruptions from emails and the temptation is always there to open our email program to check for new emails many times a day, or to leave your program open all the time and click on a new email when we hear it arrive, no matter how involved we may be in something else. This can cause us to completely lose track of what we were doing, sometimes for hours, as we'll often find ourselves responding and being taken in a completely different direction.

The self employed often suffer even more than employees by being contactable any time of the day or night. This is ironic given that most people go into business on their own because they want more freedom.

How much time do you think you could save if you allocated two or three set times per day to read and respond to emails and kept you email programme closed at all other times? Obviously not everyone will be able to do this and it will depend on your line of work and your boss. Email is an instant medium, but if you were sick or taking a day or two off work, emails may not be responded to for days. How often would a two or three hour delay in responding really matter?

Could you do the same with the phone? Could you have people leave messages and you respond when it suited your schedule rather than theirs? Again, not everyone could get away with this, but can you imagine how much more effective your time management would be if you could?

This is actually one of the secrets of effective time management. If you can discipline yourself to group your tasks and try to do as many of the same type of tasks together rather than just reacting to things as they arrive, you will save a great deal of time and get a lot more done each day.

This is a more proactive approach to managing your work and your day. You'll not only get more done, but you'll feel more in control and less at the beck and call of everyone else.

It should be possible to do this for the types of tasks most of us have to deal with, like making phone calls, responding to emails or letters, plus other types of tasks specific to your line of work.

When dedicating chunks of time to similar tasks, apart from reducing distractions, something else happens too. You'll find you get into a flow, or a rhythm and you'll accomplish much more and much faster than you usually do. The difference can be so dramatic that it can almost seem like magic.

It won't be possible to eliminate interruptions and distraction totally, but with effort and discipline you should be able to reduce them. This will certainly help you manage yourself and your time better you'll be much more effective and productive. You'll also suffer much less stress as you'll be more in control of your time and life and feel less like a slave to technology and other people.

Author's Bio: 

Garry Zancanaro is creator of a collection of outstanding and life changing Success and Personal Development Resources, and the founder of where you can claim a FREE copy of THINK AND GROW RICH