I arrive at the office every morning with great intentions. I’m rested, have my to-do list and begin to tackle email. Then it begins.

Joe pops into my office. “Hey, did you hear about Bob down the hall? He’s leaving . . .” and a conversation ensues.

Or, the phone rings. It’s Jane, the western regional director. “Hi, I am about to land an account, but I need help from marketing. Unfortunately, I need to get the RFP to them by end of day. Can your team help?” You get the picture.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’ll share these tips on how to stay focused at work from Hubspot blogger Lindsay Kolowich. As she says, learning how to maximize your time will lead you to perform better and feel better.

First, do a time audit. Kolowich suggests taking time to understand the distractions that you are dealing with by doing a time audit. For one week, keep a log of what you do with your time both inside and outside of work. Log your time to determine where you spend your time online and offline. Then, at the end of the week, review how you balanced different activities at work. Once you’ve identified what distracts you, use these strategies to overcome distractions and stay on track with your goals.

Tackle the small stuff later. A calendar invite comes in and you need to check your schedule or your phone buzzes because you were mentioned on Twitter. Kolowich suggests that distractions like these might seem small and insignificant, but they quickly add up over the course of the day.

It takes the average person 23 minutes to get back to the original task once they’ve been distracted, according to a study on digital distractions.

To limit these distractions, focus on your original task before being tempted by the others. If this means turning off your phone or closing Outlook for a brief period of time, then do it.

Block off specific time for email. As mentioned earlier, chances are you’re spending way too much time checking your email. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the average person spends 13 hours a week (28 percent of their workweek) reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails. Approaching email like you need to respond within minutes can severely limit your productivity during the day, so set some personal boundaries.

Consider tackling email during specific times of day such as once in the morning, once at lunch and once at mid-afternoon. This can help you to increase overall productivity.

Schedule “distraction” time. Schedule in time where you can focus on something other than work. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that “deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. . . . When faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.” So, schedule work periods followed by break periods, such as working for one hour, then taking a 10-minute break.

Block meetings consecutively. This happens to me a lot. Two meetings will be scheduled on my calendar, with just a 30-minute break between each. This isn’t enough time to get involved in a meaty project, such as writing website copy. So instead, I end up doing something simple in that short time, like checking email or talking to a team member. It’s often lost time that can really cut into productivity.

Kolowich suggests blocking work time and leaving open time on your calendar for back-to-back meetings. This will protect your work time. Also, if a proposed meeting time does not work with your schedule, then don’t feel the pressure to accept it. Take control of your schedule by proposing a time that works best for you. Sometimes it’s not controllable, such as when you are meeting with a customer, but the concept is to control your schedule as much as possible.

Try these tips for staying in control and focused, and watch how your productivity increases.

Source: Lindsay Kolowich is a business blogger for Hubspot, an inbound, lead-generation marketing platform.