Some days start with such promise, but one emergency meeting after another, and your to-do list quickly becomes hijacked, and you find yourself struggling to keep your head above water. It seems impossible to clear some mental space and progress on larger goals when you’re moving from task to task regularly.
But one minor adjustment in your schedule could make the difference between assuredly accomplishing your strategic objectives and scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day.
Here’s a potential solution: Meeting-Free Days
Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders offers these steps to your next focus day:
Step 1: Make the Commitment
Look at your calendar weeks ahead of time and set aside one day as UNTOUCHABLE. Commit to leaving the entire day, yes that’s right, open for focused work.
Block out time in your calendar to decline any meeting requests. And do the same for your team. This will increase your chances of setting boundaries and following through. If you want to earn bonus points, put your cell phone in airplane mode and enjoy a distraction-free day.
Step 2: Tell Others
Share the news of your meeting-free day with your team and boss. Set clear expectations of the amount of communication others can expect from you on this Focus Day and explain why you’re doing it. Maybe you’ll set some time aside to quickly scan emails for emergencies on a break or at the end of the day so your colleagues know you’re not entirely off the grid.
Step 3: Plan
Planning what’s on your to-do list before your meeting-free day is just as crucial to blocking out the time in your calendar. Choose work that requires deep focus and high-level critical thinking. Some examples Saunders provides are; writing, strategic thinking, analysis, coding, designing, or a complex project. She recommends picking a single big project or picking two or three discrete deliverables. Then write those goals down on paper or record them in your calendar.
Step 4: Block out the noise, aka routine emails and tasks
So here’s the hard part. Your instinct will be to answer that Slack message or respond to that email. Stepping out of your comfort zone here will take some time. But once you start realizing the productivity results this focus time yields, it will get easier and the daily tasks will still get done.
Research has shown those received a big boost in productivity by building in more focus-time into their day. Give it a try and let us know your results!