When you’re trying to tackle an important project that requires concentrated attention, it’s easy to be overly optimistic about your time and to think you’ve got all day — or even several hours — to get it done. But when you consider all of the meetings, emails, Slack messages, calls, and “quick questions” that take up your day, you probably have less time than you think. So when you do get a 60- to 90-minute block, focus exclusively on your highest priority project and ruthlessly protect yourself from distractions. Complex and important projects usually have some administrative tasks associated with them that don’t require as much focus or creativity. Slot those to-dos into other times (say, in between meetings) so they don’t distract from your focus. It can also help to know what you need to do next on your project, so that you can dive right in. You don’t want to spend precious focused time trying to find the source materials for your presentation or hunting down a room to sequester yourself. Remove any barriers so you are ready to go.

This tip is adapted from “5 Mental Mistakes That Kill Your Productivity,” by Alice Boyes

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