With so much to do and only so many hours in a day, here are three powerful changes you can make RIGHT NOW to free up time, eliminate distractions and get more done (particularly the things that are important to you) each day. Close Your Email Program Yes, I said it. Close your email program. I know this may border on heresy for some of you, but think about it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but email is one area where many of us have become slaves to, “You’ve got mail!” That phrase, or it’s “ding” counterpart can rip us away from just about anything we’re doing when we’re within earshot of the computer. Unless you’re waiting on a specific email to arrive, close your email program and open it only one or two times a day. The USPS only delivers mail to your home once a day, right? So why must you be able to receive email every waking minute of the day? Since when is “just because you can” reason to do something, particularly when it can be such an interruption and fritter away your time without you really noticing? Let Those Calls Go to Voice Mail Why is the urge to answer a ringing phone so overwhelming? Maybe for the same reason we say “dial” when few, if any, of us have a telephone with a dial: habit. Combined with Caller ID, voice mail is a powerful, yet grossly underused, tool for reducing interruptions and taking charge of your time. Yes, I hear those of you who say, “What if it is an emergency?” First let me say I am not suggesting that you let ALL calls go to voice mail, just calls that come in while you are engaged in getting something important done! Having said that, I realize emergencies rarely happen at a convenient time, so create a plan for reaching you with said emergencies. For example, I have “trained” my children to call my cell phone instead of the house phone if there is an emergency. They know they are ONLY allowed to call my cell phone in two situations: when they KNOW I am not home or in an emergency. In effect, my cell phone serves as the “hot line” that is always answered. This, coupled with the fact that I do not make public my cell phone number, allows me to let my calls on the other phones go to voice mail without worry. Categorize and Prioritize Your To-Do List For most of us, simply creating a to-do list is not enough. Ticking off items on an arbitrary to-do list might help you get more done each day by helping you stay “on task”, but the real question is are you getting the “right” things done each day to create the life you want to live? Take the time to create a to-do list, yes, but then take it one step further: categorize and prioritize that list! Identify those items that are goal-related – those are important! From this list of goal-related items, create your “Must-Do” list for the day. Do these things; THEN do the rest of the things on your to-do list. This way, at the end of each day, you’ll be that much closer to achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself because they have been the focus and direction of your day. Let me also suggest that you close the email program and let those calls go to voice mail while you create these lists each day. Without interruptions, you’ll need less time to get more done. Planned and enforced distraction-free periods of your day to plan and work will accelerate the speed at which you achieve more, leaving more time for play.