You’ve got a deadline for 4PM and it’s 3:15. You’ve been working at this project all day and are making some great progress down the final stretch to make it perfect. Then the unthinkable starts to happen. First, you get an email from a colleague but don’t open it. A few minutes later, you get another email from the same colleague and ignore that as well. Your phone rings. You get a text message. A direct message on Twitter. A poke on Facebook and a Snapchat that you ignore. Sounds crazy? Welcome to my life a few years ago (minus the Snapchat).
After a handful of messages, I couldn’t help but get distracted with the thought that possibly something terrible had happened. I called my colleague and they delivered the news. You see, my colleague wasn’t trying to let me know that I screwed something up. No, they weren’t even trying to let me know that someone was sick or that an emergency was taking place. In fact, they were trying to get a hold of me because they couldn’t find a document that I sent them 2 months ago because they deleted it.
My thoughts exactly.
Since then, I’ve changed my approach to distractions and interruptions. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to receive emails and inquiries from people who are looking for advice, help, my service or just to chat about business and life in general.
But what I’m not happy to do, is put aside my real work, real friends and real clients for something that is more important to you than it is to me. That just doesn’t make sense. If my heart’s not into something, I’d be doing you a disservice by pretending it was.
Now, I’m happy help but it’s not going to happen because you’re freaking out. It’s not going to happen because you messed something up. It’s going to happen because we’re striving to achieve a goal together or because I’ve got time to help you.
We’ve only got so many hours in a day and so many days in a year. What we do with that time is what we leave as our legacy and our memory. As such, this year I’ve focused as much of my time as possible on doing things I care about with people and clients I care about. I’ve worked closely with a small batch of clients who share similar values and ambitions as myself and hold themselves to a similar standard in which hold myself accountable.
For me, I’ve achieved this sense of focus with a few tips and tricks. Here’s two of the ways that I’ve stayed focused and been able to keep myself productive and distraction-free:
Sometimes you just need to open up rdio, turn on the Hustle Playlist, put in the headphones and get to work.
No time for interruptions, no time for distractions. Just me versus my to-do list and a clock that’s ticking down the time until I need to rejuvenate with a cup of coffee.
Over the last few months, I’ve made it a habit to block off certain days in my calendar to have no meetings, no calls and just focus in on accomplishing high priority tasks.
On these day, you can expect to hear from me but rarely will you hear back until the end of the day.
Because when I wake up, I’m heading to the office, opening a notebook and going line by line through a todo list of things that I need to accomplish. I set up priority notifications on my inbox and only see a flashing light on my phone or mailbox when it’s from someone considered “high priority”.
I absolutely love Wired-in Wednesdays.
On these days, I feel alive as I’m able to accomplish everything that’s important at the time and focus on giving those projects, tasks, events and jobs 100% of my attention. These are the days, I do my best work. I recommend that every entrepreneur, creator or professional establish a weekly Wired-In Wednesday (it doesn’t have to be on Wednesday – that just sounds catchy) where they focus on completion instead of interuption.
Unknown Numbers Go Straight to Voicemail
If I haven’t seen your number before it’s very likely that you’ll be heading straight for the voicemail. The reality is, telemarketers and banks have completely ruined that avenue as an opportunity to get in touch with me.
Not only that, I don’t like surprises and like to prepare for conversations instead of being asked to do things on the fly. Instantaneous questions result in gut responses and gut responses are usually ones that don’t involve any logical thinking.
If you do leave me a message, I’ll definitely check it and get back to you as soon as possible – unless it’s wired-in wednesday.
I’d be lying if I said I never answer my phone on Wired-Wednesday. I’d be lying if I said I’m able to completely tune out the distractions and for 24 hours a day, I’m 100% focused on these tasks. That’s not the case. If you’re family, a friend or a client – You always have the right-away to my ear. Anyone else isn’t exactly privilege to the same type of response time but can feel free to reach out on Clarity for quick yet important discussions.
I know some of this sounds cold and I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the best approach. Unfortunately, it’s the best approach I’ve found.
If you have any suggestions or ideas on how else I can be more productive without taking measures like this, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!