Co-authored with Siskar.co
Both for better and for worse, the way we work in the new digital age is changing fast. The freedom to work anywhere is causing us to work everywhere. The result is that too often we find ourselves being pulled from email to meeting, to text message, to social media notification, to lunch meeting, to viral meme of the day, to phone calls, and so on. In what feels like the blink of an eye 8:00 am becomes 8:00 pm. We end the day having been incredibly busy. But are we really being productive (getting things done) or creative (having original ideas), both of which are essential to building a strong business.
Time is the scarcest personal resource in existence. Unlike money, which every year the government prints more of, your time is finite. You can never get more time than the amount you were born with and therefore it is priceless. It is your duty to protect it.
Protecting your time so your mind has time to actually think and your body has time to actually get things done is something which can be a bit tricky. I recently blew up my calendar to make some lifestyle changes in the pursuit of being more efficient, better focused, and having a greater clarity in the way I work. I have been finding these new changes very effective, so I thought I would share them with you.
After the weekend it is important to start the week organized. Aside from one global call with the Founder Institute Directors from all over the world, Monday is reserved for E-mail and getting organized. Reaching inbox zero each Monday allows the peace of mind later in the week to know I am not missing anything urgent that may have come up this week. While answering and archiving e-mail, the action items from them get moved onto my to-do list for the week.
Starting Tuesday with the peace of mind that my inbox is in great shape is incredibly refreshing. Especially because there will not be much time for e-mail today. Tuesdays are for meetings! I try to schedule all my meetings and coffees exclusively on Tuesdays. Back to back meetings can make for an exhausting day, but I have found I am able to give much more attention to being present & attentive during meetings, as I am not thinking about e-mail throughout the day. Again, the action items from my meetings get moved onto my to-do list for the week.
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday:
With the bulk of e-mail and meetings behind me for the week, it is now time to get all the resulting action items done. It's time to throw on my headphones, a great playlist, and to start crossing tasks off of my to-do list. I use Todoist, which provides karma insights into how productive I am being week to week. I have seen a big uptick in the amount of actual productive work I have been getting done.
This time is also for getting your creative brain power flowing again. I have been finding that around Thursday afternoon I have usually accomplished enough tasks that the original ideas start to come flowing naturally again. These moments are essential if you want to actually innovate on your business in unique ways, as opposed to just doing what everyone else is.
Spend time with family and friends. Taking the time to maintain your personal relationships is vital to playing the long game of life. It will be a lonely and difficult journey without them. Many an entrepreneur have missed the mark here and you need to make sure you're not one of them.
Be bored! I mean it. To clarify though, watching Netflix is not being bored. That's just called relaxing. I am talking about actually letting your mind wander. This is when the best original ideas come to you. For you, this might be while in the shower. For me, this is at the gym, while I am driving, or while I am walking around New York City. You need to give creativity the room to strike you.
- Over-ear headphones make a difference. I love my Apple Airpods while walking around the city, but they do a lousy job preventing you from hearing distractions like side conversations while you're working. Getting even a cheap $20 pair of over-ear headphones will help you focus.
- Work to accomplish tasks within specific blocks of time. We have a shot clock style timer in the office we set when doing work. You may not always get your tasks done within the set amount of time, but regardless it will give you self-awareness into how long tasks are taking and how much you are actually getting done.
- If you need additional help to get everything done in your week, you should think about hiring a Virtual Assistant from a high quality VA company such a Rivvly.
- Tracking your progress is the only way to know how you're getting better. You can use services such as Escape or RescueTime to track how often you're getting distracted. And a to-do list app such as Todoist to track how many tasks you're accomplishing.
- If you really need help pulling away from the addiction of technology then be sure to use Onward. A new app which helps you change your overuse behavior in 1 minute per day to achieve tech-life balance!
Obviously, this is a pretty rigid schedule that can be hard to maintain. And yes, there are weeks where meetings happen on a Monday, work happens on the weekends, or e-mails get answered on a Thursday, but think of this more as a goal. When you find what works best for you and you start to constantly follow it effectively, I promise you will start to get some of your brain power back for yourself. Allowing you to dictate your future as opposed to everyone else dictating it for you.