As usual, Sam Parker has some great advice for us on how to focus. Here’s his plan:
Focus hours: Twice each work day, I will hold focus hours. From 9 am – 11 am and from 2 pm – 4 pm, I will become unavailable to anything but true emergencies. My phones will be off to anything inbound (no calls, no texts… airport mode on my cell). It’s only two 2-hour blocks of time where I’m unavailable to others. When I think I can’t do it and that people need to reach me because I’m so very important, I’ll remember that I’m not as important as I think I am.
Email: I will turn off email alerts and check it only twice a day (11:30 and 4:30). When I think that’s impossible because people need to reach me because I’m so very important, I’ll remember that I’m not as important as I think I am. (See below for letting people know how to get to you.)
Instant messaging: I will not do it. This would be like allowing someone to jump up on my desk anytime they want and interrupt my workflow (and I certainly don’t want to do that to anyone else). After all, I’m a grown-up.
Web: I will not use the web personally during my money hours (mine are between 8 am and 6 pm each work day with a break for lunch). When this gets tough because of my addiction to distraction, I’ll remind myself again that I’m a grown-up.
Phone: I will not give my attention to my iPhone when people I know are around me. If it vibrates (a ringtone? please) when I’m in a face-to-face conversation I will do my best to ignore it and give it attention when I’m alone. Fortunately, when I’m in an airport, I generally don’t know a lot of people so I can dig into my phone all I want there (although I might miss out on some of those serendipitous moments I’ve had in the past where I’ve met some very interesting people and learned new things… hmmmm).