What to Do During a Week Full of Distractions

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This is a lost week for many people.

Wednesday is Independence Day in the United States, which means many employees (and customers) are taking the week off. Those still at work are likely to be obsessed with the World Cup.

Then there's you. You are at work and reading blog posts like this one in an attempt to continue building your customer service skills and somehow use this week to get ahead. 

So here are a few suggestions to make the most of the week.

Distracted employee trying hard to pay attention.

Do a System Reset

One of my favorite business books is Getting Things Done, by David Allen. It's details simple ways to maximize your daily productivity and I follow many of the principles on a regular basis.

A useful suggestion for weeks like this is to do a system reset. This is where you review your entire time management system and look for loose ends. Here are a few examples:

  • Clean out your email inbox
  • Review your project list and re-prioritize key actions
  • Update your calendar with meetings, appointments, and due dates

I find whenever I do this exercise that I catch something important I might otherwise have missed. 

 

Start a New Book

There are several terrific customer service books that have come out in recent months. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fusion, by Denise Lee Yohn. This book is a wonderfully practical look at how leading companies integrate their brand and culture. It resonates with me because the interactions customers have with your company form a huge part of their brand perception. 

Be Amazing or Go Home, by Shep Hyken. I really like this book because it focuses on how we can take individual responsibility for our own performance at work. You must commit to delivering amazing service every day.

Would You Do That to Your Mother?, by Jeanne Bliss. This book introduces the "Make Mom Proud" standard for customer service. It essentially asks you to consider whether you would be okay with your mom receiving the service you deliver.

 

Take a Training Class

Why not use this time to invest in your own development?

You can access a vast library of customer service training videos on LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com. You'll need a LinkedIn Premium or Lynda account to get started, but 30-day trials are available.

Another option is the daily email format. You can try Highbrow, which serves up courses on a wide range of topics via one email per day for 10 days. (The company offers a 30-day trial, too.) My new course, How to Serve Upset Customers, just launched on this platform and I'd welcome your feedback if you get a chance to try it.

You can also try my 21-day Thank You Letter Challenge. There's no cost on this one and it's a lot of fun.

 

Unplug

It's always a great idea to unplug.

Take a break from social media, keep email to a minimum, and take some extra time to get outside. You'll end up feeling mentally refreshed and ready to go when things get into full swing again!


Too busy to get anything done

We all know a lot of busy people these days. What amazes me is how many people are so busy they don't actually get anything done.

  • Small business owners are too busy to close new sales.
  • Operations managers are too busy to improve productivity.
  • It seems like nearly everyone is too busy attending meetings to take any action.

By contrast, my email inbox is completely empty right now. I know what you are thinking. I must either be some sort of productivity wizard or I'm alarmingly unpopular. Neither happens to be true. In fact, I'm naturally one of the most disorganized and inefficient people you'd ever hope to meet but I've managed to overcome this and appear to be very organized and disciplined. I feel less stress and get more done as a result.

Here are three things you can do to get unstuck and improve your own productivity:

Step 1: List your priorities

Priorities can provide us with a clear guide on how to allocate our time and what to work on next. You can gain some clarity by making a short list of your priorities. The essential step is to list them in rank order. There will inevitably come a time when you have to make a choice and having your priorities in order make it clear which way to go.

 

Step 2: Track your actual time spent

Spend a week tracking your time. You can use our time tracking worksheet to help you out.

Does your time spent align with your priorities? Are there any surprises? How much time did you spend on non-valuable activities such as pointless meetings, preparing PowerPoint decks nobody cares about, or making sure you get that new cover sheet on your TPS Report?

 

Step 3: Get unstuck

The third step is the hardest. It involves taking small steps toward aligning your actions with your priorities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Block off some time to set up your time management system. There isn't one system that's right for everyone, but your goal should be to spend less time organizing and more time doing.
  • Enroll in a time management workshop. Yes, ours is awesome (thanks for asking!).
  • Find a great guide. My all-time favorite is Getting Things Done by David Allen. Below is a link to the book on Amazon.