We all get swept away in Emails that come in one after the other, phones that ring off the hook, and the constant firefighting that is running a business. I get it, and I’ve been there too. The problem with this is that when you’re obsessed with being constantly available for others, “time vampires” flock to you and suck the lifeblood out of your business. There’s no time left over to work on your business instead of in your business.
There is a solution, though, and that is to block out your time.
It’s a simple enough concept, but it takes some discipline to stick with. I’ve been blocking out my time now for about a year, and by my estimates I’ve gained about 4 hours of productivity every day that I didn’t have before (totaling roughly 832 hours, or 34 days, a year!!!!!). That’s entire extra month that I now have that most of my competition doesn’t have. I call it Skyruary (or Skyber…neither particularly rolls off the tongue).
Here’s how you block out your time: First, know what you want to get accomplished in a day. I like to choose 3 main things that I’m going to work on. If I get 3 things truly finished every day, then it was a success. I keep track of what I want to get accomplished on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis in an organizational tool called Trello, which I will write about soon.
Then, each night, I write out a strict schedule, from 7 or 8 AM to 3 or 4 PM, containing everything that I want to get done, blocked out into specific periods of time.
Here’s the most important part: When I’m doing this, I set aside a specific 30-45 minute window (I don’t Email on the weekend, so Mondays are longer) where I will check and respond to Email. This is why I have an extra month every year to work, because I’m not being interrupted every 10 minutes by Emails that disrupt my “flow.”
At first it’s a little scary. A lot of business owners pride themselves on being quick Email responders, as a testament to their superior service, but what you’re achieving is actually the opposite. Your job as a business owner should be to innovate your business to deliver more value to your customers, and by answering Emails as they come in, you’re preventing yourself from doing that. I was still a little nervous about this, so I set an Email signature explaining that I try to not spend my entire day on Email so that I can deliver more value to YOU (my clients). They all understand, and appreciate my commitment to bettering their lives, and I appreciate the extra 4 hours each day.
So instead of answering Emails and phone calls every day, I challenge you to disconnect for just a month and specifically dedicate a 30, 45, or 60 minute block of time each day to handle such things. I promise you’ll never go back to the old way once you see how much more productive you are.