Do you ever get “into the zone” working on a project, and then the phone rings because your client had a question that should have been an email?
And it’s never just a single simple question.
That’s their intention, but there’s always chit-chat and small talk, too.
Minutes adding up.
It takes 20 to 25 minutes to get back on track after the interruption.
A single five minute call actually costs 30 minutes in attention and focus.
For many people, this adds up to as much as 6 hours of lost time per day.
If you value your time at $100 per hour, that means you’re losing $600 every day.
Which is $150,000 per year (assuming you work five days a week and take two weeks of vacation).
I want to share a two-part set of strategies I use to make sure my time is spent wisely.
In the AIBD, there are:
We also have:
- Seasonal conferences every year (two hybrid and two virtual),
- Monthly chapter meetings,
- Monthly committee meetings,
- Monthly Board of Directors meetings,
- A yearly awards program (ARDA),
- Something else I’m sure I’m missing.
You can see we’ve got a lot going on.
To be able to get it all done, I set up this schedule for myself (feel free to steal it):
From 8-9 AM I mostly review and plan for the day.
From 9-11 AM I have two separate hours of Deep Work. I get more done in these two hours than I used to get done in an entire day.
11 AM is the FIRST time I check my email for the day! I also see if I need to re-prioritize my afternoon. Email is then CLOSED until later. Remember, no interruptions!
Noon is lunch time, but I usually just have a PB&J and work through lunch.
Past AIBD President David Pillsbury once said to me, “No math after 2 PM,” and I like that idea. From 12-2 PM I try to finish any mentally taxing work.
At 2 PM I check email again. Once that’s done, I close it until tomorrow at 11 AM.
The rest of my day is spent closing out anything that got pushed out of earlier time blocks, and personal development in whatever time is left over.
Plus all of the meetings that fit in somewhere.
Now, what to do about your client phone calls…
This second tip’s a bit controversial.
Here it is:
Any unexpected phone call is actually just an unplanned meeting (interruption).
Encourage your clients to email you, or set up an appointment (meeting) to discuss non-emergencies via phone or video chat.
(These are aside from any regular in-person meetings you may have with clients.)
Hopefully, after Tuesday’s email you decided to make yourself a schedule.
Somewhere in your schedule, make a block or three called “Office Hours.”
This is like in college when a Professor has “Office Hours” that students can come get advice outside of the classroom.
Then, have your clients schedule meetings with you in those Office Hours blocks.
Steve and I use a tool called Calendly.
- Schedule a meeting with Steve at: https://AIBD.org/meetsteve
- Schedule a meeting with Garrett at: https://AIBD.org/meetgarrett
I just use the free tier, so this is a tool that costs you nothing (unless you find value in the extra features).
For small meetings like 1-on-1’s, AIBD uses GoToMeeting.
Most people meet using Zoom, but the free tier has limits.
I prefer Jitsi Meet, which is free, open source, and fully encrypted.
(If you know me you know I take privacy and security very seriously.)
And, of course, phone calls are still an option instead of video chat.
This way, you’re never caught off-guard, you’re never interrupted, and you can mentally prepare yourself if they’re one of *those* clients (you know who I’m talking about).
I hope these two productivity tips help you get more done in less time so you can get outside and touch some grass*.
- Make yourself a schedule and stick to it.
- Only have meetings during scheduled blocks (including phone calls).
*Seriously, overwork doesn’t work.