Time management: sustained focus is the key

"My time management sucks" 

Ever heard that before? Ever said it or thought it? About a thousand times, no doubt. Me too. I regularly beat myself up for being carbon-cycle slow to achieve certain urgent and important tasks, such as creating the next course for Contented. 

Yet the solution is known

We've heard it a thousand times but find excruciatingly difficult to implement: 

Turn off all distractions and focus on one important task to the exclusion of all else.

That's what I did recently: took one week off to work on my current novel, which I had barely touched all year. I stayed a week with family in Marlborough Sounds and worked happily for at least 8 hours a day. Focus? No problem—it was heaven to just write and write and write (and edit and edit and edit). I made huge progress.

Where did the extra time come from during that golden week in the flow?

Seemed like magic, but...

  • Checked phone only once a day and email twice a day
  • Neglected social media and other comms duties
  • Ignored crises in apartment block's body corporate
  • No deliveries, no visitors, no granny duties
  • No rehearsals for dance or choir, no meetings
  • No social outings
  • Meals provided by lovely son and daughter-in-law
  • No shopping, no chores in town.

I'm wracking my brain for ways to restore the serenity and joy of sustained concentration to my happy but too-busy little life in town.

Delete activities or add a quiet space?

We're told to exert discipline on our daily schedule, and I'm sure that's true. Twenty seconds on business Twitter! Ignore email until 2 p.m.! Quit the Candy Crush!

The funny thing is that discipline is a complete non-issue when you're in the zone. I can promise to manage my week better, and I will break that promise. What I really desire is regular work retreats, where I can get into the zone without the doorbell ringing. 

For me, that means deserting my beloved home office for a library  ... or the Marlborough Sounds ... or a park bench.

How about you?

P.S. Skills speed up writing jobs, not least because they reduce errors and the need for damage control. To indirectly improve your time management, we recommend:

The 5-hour Certificate in Business Writing (includes 303-page ebook Business Writing Plus)
The 5-hour Certificate in Social Media Writing

Image: a person (not me) deep in thought in Anakiwa, Marlborough Sounds. CC-ID Rachel McAlpine


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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