Memo: Blocking time for focus is easier than you think. You just have to do it.

I try to write up “morning memos” for the team on occasion. It’s kind of hard work, but it gives me a prompt to share things I’m learning or intel on events I’ve attended and that kind of jazz. Every now and then someone (usually Micah Jones) suggests I post it to the blog.

Here are a few thoughts on blocking time for focus. You’ve probably heard a lot of them before…

Blocking Time for Focus is Easier Than You Think

Will there be actual urgent interruptions from time to time? Yeah. That’s part of life. But if you need focused time to get your head around something and do some deep work, you can have that time. You just need a little bit of planning.

Here are a few suggestions, but the thrust is, you need to make a plan. Adapt the following to your own situation or come up with your own unique steps. Just make and take the steps!

  • Work on a plan with your ops team (or project manager or whatever), let them know what you need
  • Communicate with the team so they all know what’s up and can support your efforts
  • Appoint someone to manage incoming communication, usually this is an account manager, but could be someone else on your client projects, a VA, whatever
  • Schedule out of office time so meeting invites bounce back (this is so key, and very easy to do with Google Calendar)
  • Put up an away message and out of office message – doesn’t have to say you’re out of office, say you’re in heads down time and point to the person to reach out to if it’s urgent
  • Build in a “buffer day” where you organize BEFORE you go into your heads down focus time. Organizing has a way of eating up all time and energy. Buffer days can include some interruptions, just make sure the focus is on prepping for your focus time.
  • Try to align focus days with the team calendar as much as you can. Picking a day where there are a bunch of meetings will be harder than days without a bunch of meetings. But meetings can be missed, summarized, moved, etc. to make sure there’s space for focus!

When you’re in a demand scenario, it’s very hard to get out of it. Things just keep coming. You have to pull yourself out to see clearly and take steps. Kind of embodies the idea that “if you had more time you’d write a shorter letter.”

You have to insist on a small amount of margin to reorganize. If you take that inch of margin, you can absolutely restructure enough to get what you need. From there, you gotta stick to it.

And if you go off the rails, just do it again.

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