As a social media expert, I’m constantly on my devices (computer, phone, tablet) and the reality of a digital detox well…just isn’t realistic to say the least. And apparently when it comes to spending (way too much) time on devices, I’m not alone. According to a 2017 study by the New York Post, Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes – burying their heads in their phones 80 times a day. Itch…meet scratch. With all of the potential distractions, I’ve learned to take advantage of a few tips and tricks to stay productive and organized during my day. It’s definitely allowed me to stifle the overwhelm and drill down on what’s important. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. The Daily 5 List.
As an entrepreneur there are eleventy-billion tasks that I need to get done in any given day. So what do I do? I take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine, and try again tomorrow. Ah, don’t I wish? Instead, I’ve made it a habit to write down the top five things that I need to get done in any given day. This is a list of stuff I will get done hell or high water. I do not allow myself to have “for-fun” screen time until my Daily 5 are done. Period.
2. Be strategic by time-chunking
Do you have a time of day when you’re the most productive with your work? Jena McGregor explains in her Washington Post article on “The best time of day – and year – to work most effectively” that many of us have a time of day where we’re more apt to get into a zone of productivity which allows us to get stuff done. For example, I’m most productive between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., I consistently block out this time on my calendar for high-level strategic and creative work for my clients. During these key hours my brain is most “fresh” and not yet bogged down by all the noise of the internet and email threads. However, to make these hours the most productive it requires some brief set up. So before I close my laptop for the day I jot down my Daily 5 a la Trello (phenomenal tool for time chunking and task building) and take a few extra minutes to set up my day for success. Afterall, I don’t want to be spending my key hours searching for client photos or downloading that PDF… I want to be creating! Are you optimizing your time throughout the day to work in your genius zone or are you being reactionary?
3. Mute your tabs on your desktop.
Keep everything hush, hush. If you’re anything like me you have approximately 20 tabs open on your browser window all making a variety of dings, pings and knock sounds (here’s looking at you, Slack). Did you know you can actually “mute” your browser tabs? Game changer. Just right click on the tab you want to keep quiet and select mute. If it’s more your phone that tends to make all the ruckus while you’re working you can temporarily turn off notifications on your phone as well. Enjoy this newfound headspace.
4. Set expectations for your clients/colleagues.
Communication is key here. I tend to let colleagues and clients know of the projects I’m working on that need my undivided attention and focus. Communicating ahead of time can prevent those common “drop-ins” by colleagues that turn into huge time-sucks. You all know that those “do you have a minute” turn into several minutes!
It’s also very easy to get into the habit of being on autopilot and responding to emails as they come in. Avoid being reactionary. Stay focused on the actual work you’re doing. Switching back and forth and “multi-tasking” is not productive in the long run. Set specific times throughout the day to “check-in” with your inbox and respond to urgent emails as needed. If it isn’t urgent, save your response for later in the day, or even the following day. Don’t be afraid to utilize that 24-hour rule for replying to emails if it’s acceptable in your workplace.
5. Don’t use your phone at meal time.
When it’s time to take a break or get something to eat, absolutely use this time for your benefit, and take the break that you deserve. Your mind could use a break to refresh and be ready for whatever the rest of the day entails. It’s also tempting to use this time to jump on your phone and zone-out, but try to have a real meal break and disconnect from the demands of others, even just for a few minutes. Here are a few examples of other things you can do which don’t involve screen time: take a quick walk (even if it’s around your building, the parking lot, etc.), actually try to enjoy your food (without your phone demanding your attention), have a conversation with a colleague, or try meditating or deep breathing exercises.
Sure, being strategic with your time and not allowing random check-ins on your devices can seem like a bit of a snooze fest. But, on the other hand, being all over the place everyday can lead to the perfect storm of being reactionary, stressed and overwhelmed. If you tend to feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions, then give one or all of these tips a try. Stick with them for awhile and see how much better you feel about your day. It’s all about self-awareness, people. You’ll definitely see an improvement in concentration and overall work production.
BONUS: And some days you have to just chuck your phone across the room to get anything done. #TrueStory
What are some of your best practices when it comes to hunkering down and getting your tasks accomplished? Let’s hear ’em!