I was thinking already about this topic, but it really hit home when I opened my e-mail to find a link to a YouTube video that led to a few hours of browsing and listening.
If you’re trying to get something done, you need to limit time-consuming interruptions. This means you might need to disconnect from e-mail and instant messenger, so that the brother-in-law who seems to get paid to browse YouTube can’t keep you from doing work. Imagine someone who writes for a living who is constantly getting long telephone calls when trying to work. It may be better for her to turn off the mobile and the ringer on the landline, so that she can get finished with her daily work before she lets the calls get through.
I used to watch the news (channel 2 KCBS-TV) from about 4:30 until the evening news was over. I realized one day that I was getting almost entirely the same content every segment (4:30, 5:00, and 6:00) and then the network news was mostly the same thing again. By limiting myself to watching the news once each day (with exceptions for times like the shuttle breaking up in flight), I found a large block of time that I could dedicate to other things.
I have also found that as I work through a self-instructional course in the Italian language (with a CD, so I can hear the language spoken), that it is important that I block off the same time period each day. If that time becomes "drive the kid to <insert place here>", I become frustrated, because I can’t just squeeze this activity somewhere else.
My hat is off (yes, it is a genuine merchandise Los Angeles Dodgers [of Los Angeles] hat) to those who are able to work at home, complete college degrees at home, and are able to do this without sending your family members to Siberia. One of the most difficult things for me when I was doing my Master's Degree was that I was home, therefore it was okay to interrupt me. The whole concept of "I'm working right now," just never did get through to the family. So I have the greatest respect for someone who successfully navigates those shoals.
Now, the old saying "no man is an island" is really true. I am not advocating that you completely ignore your brother-in-law. Instead, I am saying that you should dedicate a particular time for his joke e-mails and videos or his phone calls. Tell him that you want to be able to focus entirely on his message instead of fretting because a big report is due in a couple of hours. If you tell him that, you'd better mean it and stick by it.
If you want to achieve something, it is going to take time and effort. The effort part has to come from inside of you—I cannot wish it into you—but the time has to be seized and kept from the time-wasters in your life. Fortunately, today is Sunday, so I had the time to watch the YouTube videos and even repeat a couple. If you are looking for work or running a home-based business, these time-wasters can lead you to bankruptcy court. Put them in their place today!