Whenever the phone is ringing, I answer. Regardless of what it’s about. That’s my job as the team’s one and only sales person. I’m also the CEO, marketing manager, internal accountant, financier, manager, etc.
You could say that I have my ‘modes’. Come Monday, I’m into my CEO and management mode. All Monday I’ll be around the office (which is a more than 40km drive from my home) having meetings – unable to do any legwork. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are field days – I’m usually out with mentors or clients or giving a talk somewhere. Fridays are flexible – I sometimes have meetings but I can do legwork if I don’t.
Thursday is my one and only day for full time legwork. And then the phone rings. Sometimes almost the whole day.
Interruptions can be such a bummer.
Don’t get me wrong, these calls are important and I do have to take them. But what about you? Sometimes the interruptions we experience are not as important. A colleague wants to chat, or someone sends you a message in Facebook, or you get called to a meeting you think is not directly relevant to you, etc.
Have you ever noticed that the most productive parts of your day is either early in the morning or late at night – when no one is able to interrupt what you’re doing? 2pm is supposed to be the highlight of your working day – and yet it’s often the most unproductive.
The book Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals puts interruptions in a very interesting light:
“Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. Forty-five minutes and then you have a call. Fifteen minutes and then you have lunch. An hour later, you have an afternoon meeting. Before you know it, it’s five o’clock, and you’ve only had a couple uninterrupted hours to get your work done. You can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.”
Instead, you should get in the alone zone. Long stretches of alone time when you’re most productive. When you don’t have to mind-shift between various tasks, you get a boatload done. (Ever notice how much work you get done on a plane since you’re offline and there are zero outside distractions?)
Getting into that zone takes time and requires avoiding interruptions. It’s like REM sleep: You don’t just go directly into REM sleep. You got to sleep first then make your way to REM. Any interruptions force you to start over. And just as REM is when the real sleep magic happens, the alone zone is where the real productivity magic happens.”
I love how they likened productivity momentum and ‘magic’ to REM sleep. It’s quite true. You unleash your most creative juices when you’ve been left alone to work your magic for a good, focused amount of time.
I know it’s true with me.
So the next time you get a tap on your shoulders from a colleague or a random message from Facebook or nudge from Skype, have the discipline to say ‘NO’. If necessary, shut out all notifications from any communication device you have during your ‘alone zone’.
Stop participating in unnecessary interruptions. Build that momentum to attain productivity REM.
Make magic happen.