Focus

It’s crazy how much one can do, with focus. This morning, I found myself awake at half-past five. (My stomach was acting up last night.)

After reading for a bit, I decided to get an early start on work.

(I do this intermittent sleep thing, not on purpose, but because I have irregular sleep habits. I sleep as much as I can at anytime during the day.)

I completed one assignment, submitted it. Did some agenda planning and research, to make a list of recommendations and next steps for a meeting I have today. I looked at the clock, hoping that I’d have time to go back to sleep. And I did! Heaps!

It turns out, I had done that in less than 20 minutes. There are days when I love the duality of time. Even though the 24 hours in a day seem to go by in a snap, a third of an hour can seem to stretch for an eternity. 

If you’re focused, a lot can be done in an hour. 

Time blocking has proved to be rather effective for me. Besides helping to control my anxiety and that feeling of being overwhelmed, it also helps me to focus. 

One task at a time, don’t even think about anything else. 2000 words in an hour? No problem!

Correspondence

This is the fourth month I’ve “gone independent” and what a whirlwind it’s been. It’s crazy how much paperwork everything in life calls for. 

It’s insane how much time one has to spend on administration. Even with the assistance of software, I’ve had to block time out for admin and correspondence. 

But spending time on clear correspondence can be valuable.

Some people say that one shouldn’t send long emails but I’d like to propose a different suggestion. Rather than have meetings all the time, sometimes a long email can be a good replacement. 

It means that the sender would have thought through the content of his/her message. The ideas contained would be more concise, better verbalised. 

It also gives the receiver the chance to read through the points, digest and provide better insights and comments, and perhaps even complementary ideas. 

Rather than bouncing back and forth during long meetings that in my experience, are usually dragged out longer than necessary, both sender and receiver are in the right frame of mind when sitting down in front of the information. 

And when a meeting actually happens, they would have already digested the concepts and ideas and can dive right into execution. 

Distractions

Today, I listened to a Foundr podcast about “doing your best work by working less”. In it, Jason Fried talked about the disruption that comes with being connected 24/7 and the subsequent real-time work chats. It’s something I’ve always hated.

Whatsapp has become like email for me, especially when it comes to work. There are always requests flooding your inbox, there’s always someone asking for your attention. I don’t always respond right away, and I don’t expect instant responses.

There are times when I’ve sent messages to someone who might be sitting right beside me, just so I won’t distract them from their task.

Friedman also mentioned that his company practices a policy called “no talk Thursdays” and to me, that sounds like heaven.

I’ve worked with people who don’t seem to understand the concept of deep work. I’d be in the middle of a task (sometimes with earphones on) and they’d speak to me anyway. A distraction is a distraction, no matter how important it may seem.

Lately I’ve realised that it’s the CEO or department head who does this (perhaps because they think whatever comes from them is highly important?) and then later complain that certain work isn’t done fast enough.

The other thing Friedman mentions is setting deadlines. While yes, I agree that people should be given the freedom to plan their own time, setting a deadline provides a set timeframe for the work to “be shipped”.  Otherwise, as Friedman said, there’s a tendency to keep tweaking.

For me, no deadline = not a priority. And I’ll keep tweaking.