It’s Thursday afternoon and I am taking a moment to write up my results from this week’s experiment in productivity, as written about in Goal-Oriented Productivity. Yes, I know, the week isn’t over yet, but the results are obvious and apparent, and the message has been internally received. So without further ado, here is what I found out.
Schedule two blocks of focused, uninterrupted time to work.
It seems obvious, but by scheduling focused, uninterrupted time to work, I was able to accomplish more this week then the whole month of October. I found that by having two blocks of focused and uninterrupted time scheduled each day, separated by buffer times, was absolutely essential to a productive and fulfilling day.
My daily schedule would like something like this:
- 8:00-9:00 – Buffer Time. Prep my work schedule and to-do list, check e-mail and social media, brew some coffee, work on updating my website and capture any thoughts relating to new blog posts or project ideas.
- 9:00-12:00 – Focused and Uninterrupted Work Time
- 12:00-12:30 – Buffer Time. Lunch, check e-mail and social media, and brew more coffee.
- 12:30-4:00 – Focused and Uninterrupted Work Time
- 4:00-9:00 – Buffer/Family/Me Time
Having one family car did not affect productivity.
Even though I can spend up to 100 minutes per day driving my wife to work and picking her up, my productivity was not affected by the absence of driving time. I found this out because for the past two days, my wife was not feeling well enough to drive, so I had to break from the experiment and drive her to work. The 100 minutes was not coming from my scheduled work time where I was needing to be productive and as long I had an appropriate amount of buffer time before going into the first block of work time, I was just as productive as the day that I wasn’t driving my wife to work.
Limit social media, e-mail and phone calls to the buffer times.
While I don’t need to be as strict regarding e-mail or phone calls, social media needed to be restricted to the buffer times in order to avoid distracting my workflow and preventing me from gaining momentum, which is ultimately what the focused and uninterrupted times provided me. I found that I could have Twitter open during the afternoon work time mainly because I’m as focused as I will be for the day.
Setting weekly goals of what I wanted to accomplish helped to determine what was important to work on.
My goals for this week were simple:
- Complete four projects 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.
By Tuesday, I had completed two of the four projects I wanted to complete and advanced four of the eight projects towards completion. Today, I have advanced all eight projects, almost completely finishing one of them because I was able to focus and have fun on the project. The four projects have been completed and delivered to happy clients. I have been working daily on my website portfolio and I have been checking in with clients.
The only thing I wasn’t able to accomplish was a daily blog, mainly because some days the ideas were there and others, nothing. But that was at the bottom of my list and the least important to my overall sense of fulfillment.
Schedule all in-person meetings one day each week, if possible.
By not scheduling meetings until Friday, my focused and uninterrupted time was just that, focused and uninterrupted. No glances at the clock to see if I had to leave yet. No distractions, and it actually gave me something to look forward to at the end of the week.
Going into this experiment, I thought that the driving time was the main time problem disrupting my daily productivity, but it was actually the combination of not scheduling focused and uninterrupted time, not limiting social media and e-mail to the buffer times, and not focusing meetings to one day per week.
I’m looking forward to taking this knowledge and continuing to apply it each week. We’ll see just how productive I can be.