Are you getting everything done on your To Do list?
Join the crowd.
More and more self-employed entrepreneurs are complaining that email, phone calls, social media, and their beeping-buzzing smart phones are constantly causing interruptions, increasing stress and reducing productivity.
These constant interruptions are costing you productivity — and ultimately income.
In my blog post Choose One Project, I talk about the myth of multitasking. Talking on the phone and answering emails at the same time decreases your overall productivity. So does popping into social media sites while you’re trying to focus on an important project or task. It causes twice the number of errors when you multitask or allow interruptions to your task.
By allowing all these interruptions, you are losing TWO hours a day of productive time. Ouch!
Many large corporations like Intel, IBM, and Deloitte & Touche are instituting something called Quiet Time: a block of time in which you cannot send or read emails, and may not make or receive phone calls (unless they are related to the specific project you’re working on).
Small business owners can do this, too!
I started to do this last year:
- Core Productivity times are 9:00am – 2:30pm. All private client calls, group mentoring calls, classes, and project work are done during these hours.
- Every Friday was “class design and book writing day.” No client or prospect appointments, no emails from 9:00 – 2:30, no phone calls at all.
- Emails are handled twice a day – at 8:00 and 2:30.
- Each day, return phone calls are handled after 2:30 (which is great because of the time zone differences between East and West coast).
- When I really, really needed to work on a project in a deeply focused way, I’d bring my laptop to the lake, park or library, taking my work to a quiet environment without possible distractions. (I particularly like the lake because there’s no Wi-Fi there! :))
The Results of My Quiet Time Test
In a 12-month period, I accomplished these major projects:
- designed and launched three new classes (including a 9-week class which was a whopper to design)
- wrote one new book
- redesigned two of our websites
- overall had a much happier and more satisfied lifestyle and work environment
Lest you think that you will be less productive in getting through your emails and phone calls if you institute Quiet Time in your business, think again. Having fixed times each day for email and phone calls increases your productivity, actually reducing the amount of time you spend on emails and phone calls. (I found I could get through 30-40 emails in a solid, planned hour, which would have taken me two hours if I had answered them in a scattered fashion throughout the day.)
If you are frustrated because you’re not accomplishing your projects and tasks, you need to schedule Quiet Time into each day. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled by your work if you do.
How About You?
Do you regularly block out time to get projects done? What are you doing to increase your productivity without getting burned out?
I have found that by planning out my day – scheduling in phone calls, project work, client work, as well as blocks of time for general organization, email check, bookkeeping, and review and growth planning – I get more accomplished.
Obviously, situations come up and the day can get out of whack, but overall a structured schedule can keep you focused and motivated.
Heather, do you also schedule in “Murphy’s Law” time…some time during the day that’s open for things that crop up or tasks that take a little longer than expected? I learned the hard way to start doing that. 🙂
Someone once said, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” I’ll amend that to, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person who has a good schedule.”
lol In a way I guess I do schedule in ‘Murphy’s Law’. I do leave half hour increments open for ‘just in case’ issues.
What a great article to further ‘fine tune’ my appointment book. Since I’m in/out of the office for various reasons when I am in, I have scheduled blocks. However recently have been ‘checking the shiny objects’ of email or my Facebook page which certainly throws me off.
Thanks again Karyn… now back to work!
Great article! It does not matter how many times we are reminded of time traps, we still seem to fall into old habits. I know I do at least. It was a good exercise this morning to read a blog with some good tips and an outline of how you plan your day. We can never be reminded enough that time is our most precious resource!
Chris, I sometimes wonder if I should schedule time from 8:00 – 8:15 on my calendar each day and call it “Time To Plan My Day?” 🙂
Again…another quality piece of information-greatly appreciated! I have been following you for at least 5 years (possibly longer). We do not have a relationship and I am no longer self-employed – but I wanted to thank you for all the quality material you put out on a a consistent basis without demanding something in return. I recommend you to fellow entrepreneurs and respect your advice and opinions greatly.
Keep up the good work and know that you are truly appreciated! This is from a silent, raving fan! My most sincere thanks! 🙂
Thanks so much, Lisa, for your comments. It’s super to know that the articles I’m sending out are helpful to you! 🙂
Great article! Especially for those of us who chase shiny objects
You might like this article, Jack: https://www.passionforbusiness.com/articles/shiny-object-syndrome.htm (Shiny objects? I love ’em!) 🙂
I think I need to take the big step and expand the design of my days and weeks. I do some of this and have found my focus time (I like shiny objects too) has to include breaks to step away for a few minutes and I use 47 minutes time blocks but I do not head to a website, voicemail or email. Don’t ask me where that came from but my timer is set for that amount and I go with it.
I love my timer, too, Jim. I set it for 30 minute increments, then force myself to get out of the chair, even if it’s to walk down the hall and back. That 1-minute mini break allows me to re-focus for another 30 minutes.
Like Jack, I love to chase shiny objects, too, so setting a schedule is key.
As a creative writer, it’s imperative for me to set aside dedicated quiet time to focus solely on the writing – I turn off all electronic distractions, close the door, and work.
I DO plan out my day each morning, first thing, to prioritize, and then I tackle things one by one, starting with the highest priority items. I, too, chunk my tasks each day, and each weekday has a different focus:
– Monday – Create content
– Tuesday – Promote
– Wednesday – Strategy, systems, internal processes, prep for next week
– Thur & Fri – Writing
I also make sure to build in time for chasing those shiny objects, giving me my ENFP fix. 🙂
I’m the same way when I write or work on a design project, Joan. Turn everything off and WORK! Sometimes, when it’s a big project, I prefer to take a week off of “regular” work and just get the project done. If I try to do an hour here and an hour there, the project stretches out too long.
I love that you build in time to do your chasing. We must have time to play! 🙂
In this value filled post, you provide an excellent description of what I have heard defined as a Time Map. I have intermittently used the idea over the years and each time I have my productivity jumped. Thank you for this reminder of the value of blocking specific times to do specific things…AND, the importance of exercising the discipline to stick with it.
Ah, self-discipline…that’s a whole new blog post topic I can write about, Gary! 🙂
This is great! I struggle with time management and how to fit in two separate businesses. One is my own and one is one I “inherited”. I keep switching hats between both all day long and don’t ever seem to get ahead. I accomplish what needs to be done in the moment. Let’s not even talk about the shiny objects.
I am definitely going to institute quiet time for the remainder of the year and see if I can shake that overwhelm and get.things.done.
That is a great idea!
I have been thinking along those same lines recently, but this gives me a nice outline to adapt to get started.
I’m happy the blog post helped you, Jocelyne! 🙂
Your “Quiet Time” system described in this blog may work for many, but would be a major cultural shift for me. I consider myself a highly disciplined multitasker while sitting at my desk in front of the computer. Armed with my Day Planner with a prioritized To-Do List and calendar reminders that pop-up on the screen to alert me to specific scheduled events, I’ve done well with this system for quite awhile. (Decades!) However, take away one of those items, or overload my email inbox, and I have difficulties. Additionally, there is no such thing as “Quiet Time” in my head that always has some kind of music playing inside it. (Just ask Sylvia…if no music is playing, I starting humming or whistling something under my breathe.)
Sounds like you have a system that works for you, J.R. 🙂