Thoughts & Ideas

Goal-Oriented Productivity

This week, I’m embarking on a journey of experimentation in productivity.  Feeling frustrated with trying to balance the many aspects of being a small-business owner, from marketing to project proposals, and scheduling to completing projects, I’m trying out some new daily scheduling ideas, thanks in part to the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

While “Switch” is not about scheduling and getting things done, it is about change.  Not just the simple stuff, but deep and impacting change that seems impossible to fulfill.  What really has stood out and resonated with me is that change is possible if you focus and build upon what has been working, simply defined by the authors as “bright spots.”

My experiment in productivity is built upon the “bright spot” that when I focus and have uninterrupted working time, I get a lot done.  I know, novel concept, but the truth is usually simpler than expected.  So, what can I do to make sure that I have focus time?  Find the biggest time expenses and establish ways to reduce the time spent engaged in those activities.  My biggest time expenses are:

  1. One Family Car – Taking my wife to work and picking her up results in a weekly time expense of 500 minutes per week.  That is 8.33 hours of time that could be spent working.
  2. Meetings and Meet-Ups – Last week, I spent over 6 hours of time in meetings, spread over the entire week.
  3. Social Media – Leaving Twitter and Facebook open and active all day creates distractions that disrupt focus and momentum.  I estimate that I spent 5 hours last week interacting on Twitter and Facebook.

Time adds up fast.  My top three time expenses resulted in 19.33 hours not spent in focused, uninterrupted work.  That’s almost 4 hours each day.  How can I fix this?

  • First, I’m letting my wife take the car Monday through Thursday and scheduling meetings on Friday only.  This releases 6.67 hours back into my day in drive time alone.
  • Second, I’m turning off all distractions between 9:00 AM-12:00 PM, and then 12:30-4:00 PM.  This includes e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and iTunes, allowing for 7.5 hours of focused, uninterrupted time in which I can accomplish the following goals:
    • Complete four projects that are on the verge of completion.
    • Advance eight projects towards completion.
    • Work daily on the Chris Martin Studios website.
    • Write a daily blog post.
    • Check in with clients, giving them accurate and timely schedules.

I will share the results of my experiment at the end of the week, but until then, here’s to goal-oriented productivity.

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