I first learned about context switching from Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year program (which is no longer available, btw).
The idea behind it is that we spend so much time switching from task to task throughout the day that we’re wasting away our day. This is time that you can’t get back!
Think about it. You’re working on something for a client and get interrupted by a Slack or Voxer notification. Or you need to do some research so you head over to Google, which leads to Facebook, which leads to cute puppy videos. No matter what the distraction, it becomes more than just checking a notification or reading an email. It because a rabbit hole that you can’t get out of.
When you finally head back over to that client project, you need to spend a few minutes reminding yourself what you were doing. You have to recalibrate yourself. Only to get interrupted again later.
If you allow for interruptions in your work day, you’re wasting time–and you’re not performing at your highest level. You lose the “zone and flow state” that you could be in if you stick with one project at a time and cut out distractions, according to Herman.
Is this you? Are you guilty of attempting to do too many things at once? (It’s okay…raise your hand.)
Let’s make this quarter more productive than last. Set some boundaries and priorities–within your calendar–so you can take back that time.
Block Your Time
You went into business because you wanted more freedom in your life. But you still feel like a slave to your calendar and your work, with little time left over for yourself or your family. The first thing I want you to do it prioritize your why in your calendar.
Whether you use an iCalendar, Google calendar or something else attached to your online scheduler, block out all the important dates for the rest of the year. Your workouts, your kids’ school holidays and performances, date night, vacations, afternoons you want to take off just because. Those are your non-negotiable days off, and if no one can book a call with you during those times, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Tuesday nights are one of the most important times for me, and even though it’s outside of normal work hours I still have that time blocked on my calendar. It’s when my husband and I take our date nights, or when I take one of my kids to dinner or when I head out with girlfriends for a glass of wine. This time is always on my calendar first. Because when we’re personally fulfilled, business is going to be in good order.
Define Your Tasks
There are things you have to do in your business on a regular basis to stay afloat. Most of these tasks are the same from business to business but you’ll also have a number of tasks that are unique to you.
- Checking emails
- Social media
- Review strategic objectives
- Client work
- Admin work
- Team meetings
- Reviewing business analytics
Identify what you need to do in your business on a regular basis and put it on your calendar. Then stick to it. Stay out of your inbox, except during the two times a day you designate for inbox management. Stay off of social media, except when you’re in your designated social media time.
Doing this helps you start to chunk out your time so you have fewer moments of context switching and more moments of quality work time–which means more moments for yourself, your family and your passions.
Know Your Season (Objectives)
Being really clear on what season of business you’re in can help you decide where you need to focus your time. Your weekly and monthly tasks may change depending on where you need to focus your time.
Every stage of business is different and every one requires a unique set of strategic objectives. Maybe you’re new to business and working on a viable product to sell. Or maybe visibility is a focus so you can grow and scale. Whatever it is you’re focused on, make sure your daily, weekly and monthly tasks reflect that.
Most importantly, find ways to remove distractions and stick to boundaries in your calendar. The more you do this, the more productive you’ll be and the richer your life (and your business).
If context switching has been a struggle for you, getting crystal clear on your mission, vision and values will help you make decisions about where you need to focus your time and energy.
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