If you’ve ever felt like your daily productivity is depleted and struggling to get enough done by the end of a workday because a wave of unexpected distractions hit your desk, then you’re not alone. I think we’ve all had that kind of days happen to us.
I’ve recently found a framework that has helped me manage my focus and time by being intentional about how I kick-off my days and preserving my focus throughout the day. So if you want to work with fewer distractions getting more done, then this one’s for you.
Be Intentional About Your Daily Productivity
Kicking-off your day knowing exactly what you need to do to get your first WIN ticked off your list is critical for your productivity throughout the day. That’s why I spend about 30 minutes starting my day having a workday startup routine in place.
The startup routine helps me focus on the things I need to get done on my WIN (What’s Important Now) list. Every day I list the three most important things I can do to move forward towards one or more of my goals. I usually prepare that list at the end of the day, the day before during my workday shutdown routine. That way, I can hit the ground running when I start my day.
But that’s not the most important part of why having a workday startup routine will make you more efficient and productive. I’ve got a few different tasks during my 30-minute morning ritual that help minimize distractions during the day, giving me better conditions to focus and get things done.
What Should Be Part of Your Routine
We live in a time where people expect instant responses to emails, messages, and phone calls. If you’ve read ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, then you also know that all those seemingly “important” things are only time-consuming distractions and not at all as urgent as they might seem. All they do is taking us away from our focused WIN-work.
You can see which distractions you should get rid of and which to make sure to schedule to take back control of your time in the Eisenhower Matrix.
click to enlarge ☝🏼
Did you know that a SaneBox study of internal data showed that 58% of the average inbox emails are unimportant and don’t need immediate attention?
Furthermore, every new email notification that pops up on your screen disrupts your focus – even if you don’t even open it. Studies report that it can take up to 20 minutes to recoup full productivity after a notification comes in.
That’s why I spend some time every morning before I kick-off my actual workday responding to emails and messages that I didn’t get to the day before. Then I’ll do the same at the end of the day as well. It’s freed up a good amount of time for me to do more focused deep work.
Besides responding to emails, my workday startup routine includes checking social media messages, comments, etc., and reaching out to the people I want to connect with.
Set Yourself Up For a Distraction-Free Zone of Focus
Protecting your time is essential if you want to be more productive and get more done. To help you do that, there are a couple of easy ways to create a more distraction-free zone of focus that will increase your productivity.
#1 Limit your time responding to emails
You might think it’s a bit overwhelming to only respond to emails twice a day, but try it out and see how liberating it is and how much more you get done.
#2 Turn off all notifications on your computer
As you’ve just read, just seeing a notification pop-up on your screen will disrupt your focus, and that’s exactly what we want to avoid. You shouldn’t be a victim of social media or any other attention-grabbing media. Therefore turn off notifications.
#3 Set your phone on silent or flight mode and put it in a drawer
While you do your deep work sessions, you don’t want to be distracted by your phone, and to avoid the urge to check it, I suggest you leave it in a drawer across your office or room. That way, you have to take conscious action to check your phone instead of letting your subconscious mind reach out to get that dose of dopamine checking your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram feed, or whatever your brain-candy might be.
Work Focused In 90-Minute Sprints
After trying a few different workflows, I’ve come to find that 45 and 60-minutes are too short to really do focused work. So I’ve settled on what I choose to call my 90-minute WIN Sprint.
Having made my WIN sprints a part of my daily plan has boosted my daily productivity like crazy. I’m getting much more done than I usually have been able to, and it’s a much more satisfying feeling at the end of the day. I try to protect my mornings for my WIN sprints, scheduling other tasks, meetings, etc., in the afternoon. I usually have three of these WIN sprints during an ordinary day, depending on meetings and other activities I’ve got scheduled.
At first, it was actually challenging to concentrate for 90-minutes straight. But, like with everything else, it’s gotten better as I’ve gotten used to the practice.
Recharge And Refocus
An important thing, though, is to schedule time to recharge and refocus between WIN sprints. You can do exactly what you feel like during these breaks. Whether it’s dancing to recharge your energy levels or if you’re more to meditations or a quick yoga or workout session, then do that to clear your head.
Try not to check emails during your recharge and refocus time.
Setup a Midday Email Check-in, If Necessary
If you find it too much of a challenge to only respond to emails twice a day, then set up a specific time around midday to check-in and respond to the most urgent emails you’ve received.
But, only do this if it makes you feel more at ease and as long as it doesn’t disrupt your focus after your check-in.
Final Thoughts on Boosting Your Daily Productivity
I know this might seem like a very rigid framework, but it’s actually liberating when you see the results. And don’t forget, by protecting your time, you’re the one in control.
Try to imagine how your perfect day would plan out if you could control it. Hint, you have more control than you think. So how would your perfect day look like?
If you worry about what your colleagues would say if you implement this framework, let them know that you’re trying this out and you won’t be reachable during your WIN sprints. Also, let them know you’ll get back to them if it’s urgent.
You might not be able to have three WIN sprints during the average workday but don’t let that keep you from trying it out. Start with one WIN sprint a day.
The cool thing about this framework is that you can move your WIN sprints around during your day. So if you get called into a meeting in the morning, then block out time on your calendar after lunch to do your deep work.
That’s all, and I hope you’ll take action and boost your daily productivity by trying out this framework. And when you do, I’d be happy to hear about your results.
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