I’ll turn 37 in less than a month. I have a wife, a dog, 2 sons, and a digital advertising agency. I realize how fortunate I am, but I’m definitely feeling the crunch my life is putting on my schedule, personally and professionally. The funny thing is that this is the only way I know, and it’s the only schedule I want. A life less busy would be awkwardly uncomfortable.
Despite the hectic schedule I keep, I do need order in my day to day. This is as true at home as it is in the office. I want to feel as though I’m using my time in as productive a way as possible, as often as possible. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that as long as I leave myself available to daily interruptions, this goal just isn’t realistic.
Living in today’s connected society, I see no fewer than 11 different ways someone can request my attention at any given second of any day:
- Cell Phone
- Desk Phone
- Text Messages
- Slack Messages
- Facebook Messenger
Unfortunately, being available at all times has its downfalls. If you’re always available, you are rarely capable of being completely productive. On a typical day, I receive 25+ phone calls, 50+ emails, 10+ text messages, 10+ LinkedIn messages, and a number of drop in meetings. This is on top of the 5 – 7 calendar meetings I tend to have on my calendar!
Below are a few things I’m implementing for myself in 2016 to ensure I’m staying busy and making the most of my time in the office:
Track every minute of your work week, for two weeks. This will be a pain, but it will give you data on how you’re spending your time in the office. I bet you’ll be surprised.
Work when or where others aren’t. Get in early. Stay late. Work for an hour at the local coffee shop.
Plan your day. I spend the last 10 minutes of every day recapping the day. I spend the first 10 minutes of every day planning my day.
Block your time. Set meetings in your calendar with yourself and stick to them.
Respond to emails in bulk. You don’t need to respond to every email the second you receive it. Set 30 minute email blocks first thing in the morning, over lunch, and just before you leave. Only respond to emails during your email blocks.
Respond to voicemails in bulk. Set aside blocks just as you did for emails.
Take a break in between meetings. Never book meetings back to back. You need at least 15 minutes to think about the meeting you just had and to plan the meeting you’re about to have.
Put the cell phone on silent. You don’t need to answer every call. Block and return calls in bulk.
Put your desk phone on DND. When you have deadlines to hit, nothing is more distracting than a ringing desk phone.
I challenge you to pick a few of the strategies above and try them out for a week. I think you’ll be shocked at how much more productive your can be just by eliminating a few distractions in your day.