Fighting For Our Focus
Scheduling of work falls into two broad categories: Makers and Managers. Most of us are either managing people and projects or making something, like documents, apps or other creative things that require sustained focus.
Our attempt to balance our managing time with our making time is the fight for our focus, and creates the core problem that overwhelms most of us.
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None of us can get creative in short 15-minute bursts of work sandwiched between a mandatory meeting and a sales team call. It is also a myth that people work for 8 to 10 hours a day.
Most people are productive in sporadic periods of time, like 15 minutes, followed by an interruption, then for 20 minutes, followed by a commitment/obligation/meeting and so on.
We need to align our schedules with our goals and create a strategy that helps us focus on deep work.
The real problem according to experts, is making the switch between managing and making, due to the fact that our brain does not immediately obey us and is stuck on the work that was happening earlier, something known as attention residue.
We can take the help of certain rituals and routines that can help us switch between the two modes, like taking a walk, a few minutes of deep breathing, a short burst of exercise or even a slow cup of coffee.
A way to organize our schedule is to split the days in our week into two categories, marking our calendar as:
What complicates matters is that many managers who are managing the makers think of time as short blocks and try to break the focused time of the makers, requesting them to juggle work or multitask, which kills any productivity or quality with the unending context switching.
Most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools.
In fact, most people average only 3 minutes on any given task before switching to something else (and only 2 minutes on a digital tool before moving on).
We usually give priority to unimportant tasks when there is a sense of urgency around them.
We’re actually psychologically wired to put aside important tasks in favor of tasks that feel more urgent. But spending our time taking care of urgent tasks can leave us feeling exhausted and unaccomplished.
Time blocking your schedule
• Know your high-level priorities and goals.
• Start creating blocks for your time outside of work (morning routines, time with family/friends etc.)
• Schedule your most meaningful work for when your energy and attention naturally peak.
• Add blocks for reactive tasks each day (emails, calls, meetings).
• Write down your daily to-do list (for work, home, and family/social) and fill it in.
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