Thursday, November 13, 2008

Making Time to Create & Time to Think

Do Not Disturb - Brilliant Minds at Work sign

Do you ever sit back and wonder where the day went? Where the week went? Where the month went?

It's so easy to get caught up in our daily busyness, and to spend endless time using all our wonderful electronic communication tools (e-mail, text messages, Facebook, Twitter) that we forget to set aside blocks of time to do the work that really moves us toward our goals: the strategizing, the thinking, the writing of books (for authors or would-be authors), etc.

I've been reading a bit about this lately, and found inspiration from two sources. The first is Merlin Mann, who has a popular web site called 43 Folders, which he is taking in a new direction. He recently ran a series called Making Time to Make; here's just one quote, using the example of an author:
Thing is: if the amount of time you devote to lite correspondence with individual people exceeds the amount of time you spend on making things, then you may be in a different line of work than you’d originally thought you were. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re feeling off your game, it might be a good time to ask yourself whether you’re primarily a writer of novels or of email messages.
And here's another bit from an essay on attention management:
Today I learned about a guy who’s one of the most respected and admired people in his company; and everybody in the company knows that his door is closed (really closed — no interruptions, no exceptions) all morning every morning. That? That is when he works. Then after lunch, through the end of the day, his door never closes — yes, come in and “interrupt” all you want. That’s the whole idea. And it works great.
My second bit on inspiration is this snippet of a conversation Barack Obama had with Tory leader David Cameron. This part comes from Obama:
... Somebody who had worked in the White House who — not Clinton himself, but somebody who had been close to the process — said that should we be successful, that actually the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking.
[via Slate]

[Do Not Disturb sign from G.Neil]


Geralin Thomas said...

I totally agree with these ideas.

More and more work-from-home folks are finding it difficult to handle everything --the finances, returning calls, scheduling appointments, responding to emails, networking, etc.

One "soft" way of discouraging interruptions is to think twice before giving out more than one phone number. If you distribute the phone numbers for your home, office, mobile, etc. you are setting yourself up to be interrupted more often (IF you answer your phone every time it rings.) In addition, it adds another task your to-do list: check voice mails--all of them.

I would like to take time to think about this topic --w/o interruptions :)

Jeri Dansky said...

Geralin, I've received other comments on this post (via e-mail, etc.) and this one seems to be striking a chord with a lot of people.

Thanks for your suggestion about the phone numbers!

Anonymous said...

This is such a great's so tough to prioritize this time when you want to work with clients as much as possible, but I finally realized I had to give myself at least 8 - 16 hours per week of time to write, communicate, and do admin work. It's transformed my life!

Jeri Dansky said...

Ariane, I agree - making those decisions on what takes priority is tough. It's an ongoing process to find the right balance.