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When 'Just Do It' Just Doesn't Do It: Maximizing Interruptions As They Happen To finish your daily to-do list, sometimes you just have to make the most out of all the distractions as they come up.

By Jason Womack

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When Just Do It Just Doesnt Do It Maximizing Interruptions As They Happen
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When was the last time you thought of something to tell someone but they were not "right there?" This can happen when, for example, you're at home, and you think of something to tell someone at work. Or, you're out at a movie, and you think of something to tell a colleague. What do you do?

Call them? IM? Write an email? Send a text message?

"Just do it," that now-famous Nike slogan, actually creates more interruptions than most people can handle. What if, instead of sending "a message at a time," you saved them up. Then, at a predetermined time, you interrupt (what I call "meet") someone and go through your collected list of items to discuss?

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Here's an experiment: For a few days, try a tactic I call "bunch and discuss."

The idea: Since there is a constant stream of thoughts you have that come in at all kinds of random times. In traffic. At dinner. While you're in line at the coffee shop. . . and, during these thoughts you no doubt think of someone you need to talk to -- in your personal life or at work.

So, get a note card or dedicate a page in your notebook to a single person you talk to a lot during each week. To start, you could implement this at work. Simply save a page in your notebook for each person:

  • Your boss
  • A co-worker or two
  • A direct report, intern or new hire

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And, you can decide if you'd like to do this for your life as well. Dedicate a page to your spouse, your kids, your coach, your financial advisor and others who are important to you.

Then, when you think of something to tell one of those folks, simply turn to the page and write it down. See if you can write down a few things during the day to see what it would be like if you "bunch and discuss." I have found this to be a great way to save time and convey the information you need, as you need to.

It makes sense to interrupt someone once with three or five issues, than three or five times with one thing to talk about at a time. Personally, I wouldn't work without agendas. Give it a try just for five days, and see what you come up with.

Related: Three Tips for Boosting Productivity With Project Debriefing

Jason Womack


Jason W. Womack is the CEO of The Womack Company, an international training firm that helps busy professionals be more productive through coaching and consulting. He is co-founder of the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, author of Your Best Just Got Better (Wiley, 2012) and co-author with his wife, Jodi Womack, of Get Momentum: How To Start When You’re Stuck (Wiley, 2016). Since 2000 he has coached leaders across industries and trained them in the art of increasing their workplace productivity and achieving personal happiness.


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