Three Tips to Deal with Distractions When You Gotta Follow Through and Get Work Done

You know how sometimes you need to get work done, and there seem to be distraction after distraction getting in the way of your follow through. What do you do to ensure that you will not be disturbed?

All business owners need to carve out some time each week to get work done without the normal interruptions of a lively business.  Here are some ideas you can implement to protect your work time and your follow through.

  • deal with distractions so you can follow throughClose your door – My first “real” job I had a supervisor who was a pro at maintaining her productivity. She had a very clear signal for whether she was available for you to enter her office and ask a question.
    • When her door was closed, you were not to disturb her unless there was an urgent need or an emergency.
    • When her door was open, it was never a problem to enter her office, which was the case most of the time.

It was one of the things she shared with you when you were first hired so she set the expectation up front and everybody knew it.

If you have an office with a door, close your door when you don’t want to be disturbed. If you don’t have a door, let those around you know that you would like to be left alone for the period of time when you want to get stuff done (unless of course there’s an emergency).

  • Block your calls – When I was in a meeting with the same supervisor (with her door closed), she would put her phone on “Do Not Disturb” so that her calls went directly to voice mail. In today’s world that is the same as putting your phone on silent. Turn the ringer off on your phone to support your high productivity work times.
  • Screen your calls – Another suggestion comes from when I owned a computer store and would receive almost constant interruptions including phone calls. There were times when I just had to get some work done and there were certain people that I still needed to talk to. So I told those people to ask for Scott David (my middle name) when they called. My employees knew to let those phone calls through and to take a message if the caller didn’t have the “secret code.” I still chuckle at the creativity of this early caller I.D. system. If you have someone answering your phone, decide ahead of time who you need to talk to during your work hours and let other callers go to voice mail to be returned at another time.

Sometimes you just need to get work done and ensure that you will not be disturbed. Please share with us in the comments any creative ideas you have for protecting your productivity.

Take action: What do you need to do to keep distractions from getting in the way of your follow through? Spend 2 minutes right now planning out how you will utilize one of the above strategies.

Posted in North Cornerstone (implementation) | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How Do You Keep A Clear Work Space From Getting Cluttered Again?

cleardeskPreviously I shared with you some Tips For Decluttering Your Messy Desk. But how long does your cleared desk stay that way? I’m guessing not too long.

So I want to pose a related and different question. How do you keep your work space that you have just cleared from once again getting cluttered?

As a home-based business owner it’s up to you to maintain order and flow where you work so you can stay focused and follow through on your business actions. That includes keeping your work area clear of piles and other stuff that has no business being out on a surface. That can be easier said than done when you’re busy with everyday activities along with your personal responsibilities when putting stuff back in it’s place might not be your highest priority.

To help us out I asked some friends over at MyBlogU to share their tips and tools for keeping a work space that is clear from getting cluttered again. Here’s what they had to say:

Seph Cadiz (Internet Marketing Entrepreneur )

Find a home for everything. Create an in-depth to do list with time frames and focus all attention on the one task at a time. After you complete a new goal, retire any tool used for that goal to their designated home and move onto the next item on the list.

Patricia Anthony (E-commerce Strategist)

The best way to keep a room clutter free is to make it a habit. Take time to clear up every day.

Label files, drawers and cabinets so that you easily decide where an item should be stored away.

Use desk organizers to keep items on your desk, neatly stored away.

Clear up and store away unwanted items in between tasks, or before switching to another activity

JamieBDC (Writer and researcher)

Be ruthless. Don’t let clutter build up. Every night before finishing work (if this in an office or studio) or going to bed (if it’s a home study), check your work area and spend a few minutes clearing away any clutter, removing waste, sharpening pencils etc and laying out the next day’s work. Don’t let the sun go down on clutter – it’s just ensuring wasted time and frustration for the following morning, and a bad start to the next session of work.

Eve Koivula (Lifestyle Business Discovery [LBD] Mentor)

My desk is actually our kitchen table, so I have to keep it clutter free, ‘cus we’re having dinner every single night.

I’m a pen & paper girl (kinesthetic learner) so that’s sometimes quite a challenge because I have pieces of paper lying everywhere. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

First of all, I always try to make sure to finish one project at a time. First thing is to give it a name, then create a folder offline and online. It’s usually just me, so I have a notebook in Evernote and a folder on my computer. If I work with a team, I place everything into a project management system.

I start by printing out the necessary checklists and create a mindmap for myself, using sticky notes and a folded A3 size paper. I store that inside a carton folder and add all the other notes I’m making about the particular project. When I start working, I pull those out and when I’m done for the day, I fold them away with my laptop.

Once the project is finished, I place the notes inside the folded A3, create a print screen of the folders, print them out and archive everything in a binder.

What’s important is to know the reason to do all this. My main motivator is that it not just improves my business, but also my relationship if I take care of it 🙂

David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)

Not that my desk is always uncluttered by any means, but one thing I do keeps it from getting more cluttered than it already is – I make use of my walls.

Behind me are two white boards.  On one I list current in-progress projects that I am doing for clients. On the other are projects that in theory will be undertaken by myself or a member of my team (although I know that only one in five will actually proceed.  These white boards are strictly a “don’t drop the ball” tool.  All the actual info in on my computer, but this saves me from having scraps of paper and sticky notes reminding me to keep track of them.

To my left I have a few at-a-glance lists to remind me of things when I need them, so that I don’t have to search or forget things.  For instance, I have a list of places to promote my blog posts when I publish.  I have a list of family anniversaries and birthdays.  I have a list of my book writers. And I have a list of number key combos to use for French and Spanish characters/accents.  Above those is a drawing my daughter did for me (well, I don’t want that cluttering my desk, either).

This does not keep my desk uncluttered (sometimes sweeping the desktop into a drawer does), but it does keep it less cluttered.

Phil Turner (The 5 Currencies Guy)

This is not something I am good at.

I need more box-files to put things into. As I look around I see battery charger, supermarket brochures, bank statements, pens and receipts that I need to file away for tax. I have folders for most of those things!

Those are some great suggestions. Thanks for your input.


  • Find a home for everything.
  • After you complete an action item, return any tool used to its designated home.
  • Take time to clear up every day. Make it a habit.
  • Label files, drawers and cabinets so that you easily decide where an item should be stored away.
  • Don’t let the sun go down on clutter. Every night before finishing work, check your work area and spend a few minutes clearing away any clutter and laying out the next day’s work.
  • Give each project a name, then create a folder offline and online.
  • Make use of your walls for white boards and printed lists.

Do you have a tip for keeping a clear work space from getting cluttered that’s not included here? We want to hear from you. Share it with us in the comments below.

Take action: Look around your work space right now. For those who need some decluttering, check out the previous blog post, Tips For Decluttering Your Messy Desk. For those whose work space is currently clear, set up some structures to keep it that way. Block out an hour in your schedule to follow through. If you don’t have enough time to block out an hour, block out two hours. (LOL – I stole that line from people who suggest that for meditation.)

Posted in South Cornerstone (environment), Tips, Tricks, & Tools | 2 Comments

Decluttering Tips from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

On my morning walks I recently listened to a recording of the best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Japanese consultant and home-organizing guru, Marie Kondo. It changed my thinking about decluttering and how I organize and store my stuff.

The book takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method.  She takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly declutter your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Whereas most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, the KonMari Method’s category-by-category, all-at-once prescription leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have been repeat customers (and she still has a three-month waiting list of new customers!).

DeskAs you might sense from the book’s description, I found the author to be a bit full of herself. And at the same time, the techniques described in the book are unconventional, yet easy to implement. Kondo has attracted a cult like following on decluttering. A number of clients and friends suggested the book to me.

With detailed guidance for every type of item in the household, this quirky manual will help readers clear their clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home–and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire. Overall, I highly recommend the book and would like to share some decluttering tips from it.

  • Declutter in one shot, not little by little. If you tidy a little each day, you’ll be doing it forever. When it’s done in one go, you’ll see how much stuff you really own. This can create an emotional shock value which can alter your behavior.
  • Sort by category, not by location. We are trained to tidy the bedroom, living room, kitchen and rest of the house. But Kondo says this is a fatal mistake. When we are decluttering by location, we repeat the vicious cycle in other locations. Purge by category such as: all your clothes, books, and so on.
  • Start decluttering the easy stuff. People get stuck and self-sabotage their efforts by purging sentimental belongings first. Begin with the easier things. Then, you are better prepared to tackle the mementos later. Kondo recommends simplify in the following order:
    • Clothing
    • Books
    • Paper
    • Miscellaneous
    • Mementos such as photos, love letters, childhood stuff, etc.
  • Choose to keep only what “sparks joy.” Most minimalists and decluttering experts emphasize elimination or discarding. A much better approach, argues Kondo, is to focus on keeping the things that “spark joy.” In essence, the true art of minimalism is removing the non-essential so we can enjoy those things that do matter.
  • Handle each item then let go with gratitude. Pick up each item, feel it through your fingers and ask the question “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. But then express your gratitude to the things that fulfilled their role or purpose in your life. “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me.” This anthropomorphic treatment of our possessions, argues Kondo, will make it easier to release your sentimental possessions.
  • Don’t scatter storage spaces throughout the house. Clutter accumulates when we fail to return items where they belong. Store items of the same category in the same location, rather than throughout your home because of convenience.
  • Give every possession a home. Clutter will develop when items do not have a designated storage location. Decide where you are going to put things after they’ve been used.
  • Store things vertical, never pile. When items are stacked, storage possibilities become endless, things in the bottom get lost and squashed. Vertical storage encourages you to notice the clutter as it develops because it takes up space.
  • Remove your books off the shelf and put them all on the floor. “Books you’ve read have been experienced,” argues Kondo, so let them go unless they “spark joy” when you touch them. Release unread books as well, since maybe their purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it in the first place.
  • Discard the majority of your paper clutter. This does not include love letters or journals. All legal documents should be kept, if unsure, seek the counsel of a professional. To help decide what to keep, Kondo provides 3 categories:

For those who have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, share with us in the comments your thoughts on this method and whether it has worked for you.

Take action: Are you ready to declutter? Set aside an upcoming weekend to tidy up your home and office space. Block it out in your calendar and enlist helpers to encourage you to follow through.

Posted in South Cornerstone (environment), Tips, Tricks, & Tools | 2 Comments