The one interruption that is slowing you down…

And that’s having a massive impact on your productivity

When I ask people about the main time suck in their day…what do you think is in their top 3?


It’s always up there in the top 3 as the thing that really stops them doing what they need to do.

Now, I have to say that although I agree interruptions can slow you down, for the most part interruptions from other people can be managed effectively.

However, there is one interruption that is often a daily occurrence for so many of us (me included) and often goes on far below the radar…so you probably don’t even realise this is a problem and just how much it’s affecting your productivity.

And that’s you!

Let me explain and I’ll use myself as an example.

So, I’m busy writing this post and then all of a sudden a thought will go on in my head….

“hmmm this would help X…I’ll just let him know before I forget.”

So instead of scribbling it down on a piece of paper and carrying on my merry way, what do I do? I flick over to my email and write an email.

Whilst I’m there I notice an email pop up from a client asking for something…

“I’ll just do that before I forget and then they’ve got it.”

So I flick on over to grab the attachment to send it over…

“Oh, I bet they could do with this too”

…and before I know it I’ve completely and utterly interrupted myself many many times and guess what? I’ve still not finished what I was doing.

Sound familiar?

Now, I know from experience that this isn’t just me…if you want a laugh about it check out this great stand up from Ellen DeGeneres chatting about procrastination. Made me chuckle.

Anyway where was I? Now I’m thinking about Ellen….

Interrupting ourselves is really common and can be right on up there as one of the main reasons why you don’t get done what you want to get done in your day – OR – Why you don’t get things finished!

“Don’t be the reason you don’t finish a task.” Barbara Nixon


So, what can we do about it?

  1. Use an alarm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Using an alarm really does work. When you start a task, set your timer and then get busy. It really helps to focus the mind and if you do happen to go off piste when it goes off it’ll remind you what you should be doing so you can go back and finish.

  1. Have a pen and paper next to your keyboard

One of the main reasons for interrupting yourself is because something has just popped into your head. When this happens scribble it down. It’s not an excuse to go off and merrily get involved in something else.

  1. Spot yourself doing it

Awareness is the first step to fixing a lot of things so start spotting yourself doing it. When you do, just notice it, and work on not doing it as much the next day. You’ll find you’re doing it less and less as time goes on.

  1. If you need to divert – eg to answer the phone, make sure you come back to the original task to finish it off before going on to do something else

Yes there will be things that crop up that you need to deal with then and there…and that’s fine. When they do, make sure you can get back to the task in hand as soon as you can so that you can finish it off, and try not to get bogged down with more than one thing at once.

  1. Give yourself a reward for every task you finish

I don’t know about you but the best thing about having a to do list is crossing things off. So, once you’ve actually finished a task cross it off and give yourself a little reward – for me this is the perfect time to grab a cuppa.

As you’re going about your day it’s easy to kid yourself that you’re actually doing more…when you’re doing a lot less. By focusing on one task at a time, and getting it done and finished you’ll see a massive increase in your productivity, and you’ll feel fantastic at the end of your day.


I’d love to know: What tips do you have for keeping yourself focused on one task at a time? Let me know by leaving a comment.


  1. Natasha

    Great tips as usual and of course completely identify with the points made! I have taken your tip on board before regarding setting an alarm and it really does work.

    • barbaranixon

      Thanks Natasha. I’m so glad the alarm tip works for you. It changed my world completely.


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