Last month I shared about my experiment with Processing Emails In Batches and so far I have continued with that routine and seen tremendous results. I was also surprised with how popular the topic was because I got several follow up emails and texts about it. Today I wanted to share another technique that I have recently implemented, Focus Blocks.
This concept builds on my email batching and also incorporates a tip I learned during the Verne Harnish Growth Seminar. A Focus Block is a “defined amount of time (block)”, typically 90 – 120 minutes, with a “specific task or list of tasks to accomplish without distraction (focused)”.
My approach has been to plan ahead and carve out the Focus Blocks on my calendar so everyone knows I’m booked. Another key ingredient is I always have earphones with music playing to help cut out the noise in the background.
Prior to starting a block I’ll pop open my email and scan through to make sure there is nothing that needs immediate attention and then I’ll create my to do list for the block. Then I’ll start a timer on my phone for the allotted time, disconnect my email, log out of Skype, and the focus work begins. For 90 minutes I’m “wired in” and off the radar until I hear that timer go off.
Once the timer goes off, I’ll reconcile what was accomplished and update the to do list, then I’ll reconnect with the world. Email is typically the first thing I’ll scan and before I respond to anyone I’ll take a break and usually walk around a bit since as my brother shared “Sitting is the new Smoking”.
So far these Focus Blocks have been fantastically productive for me in accomplishing some of my more tedious tasks. I’ve tried days with as many as 4 Focus Blocks but those feel way too intense. I believe my magic number is 2 per day, and usually the early AM is the best.
This is an on going process of maximizing my productivity because time is our most valuable resource and I hate to waste resources…