I’ve said it before but it bares repeating…If you want to get some quality work done, turn off your phone. Of course, this may not apply to some of you. If you work at a call bank, obviously, or if your job requires you are able to be contacted, then you have to keep it on. But if you do creative work, or if you are able to go two to three hours without a phone, I think you’ll find the time remarkably productive.
Here’s how I structure my phone-free time:
1. I wake up early. I’m usually awake by 5 or 6AM. I respond to e-mails and text messages using my phone. I check the news on my phone too. Then, even before people can respond, I shut the phone off. This marks the beginning of my phone-free hours. Because the hours are so early, few people are trying to reach me anyway. Most people, even on the east coast, don’t start calling till 8AM or even 9AM, after which I’ve already gotten a couple hours work done.
2. I am very intentional about the phone-free hours. I go for a walk to start the morning, letting the dog do her business. Then I come back, sit at the desk, and enjoy a few hours knowing it isn’t possible to be interrupted. It’s amazing how much mental clarity is freed up when you are not able to be contacted at all. There’s no question I’ll get more done in the next two hours than I will for the rest of the day. Try it and you will see. I think this is so true that if I had a company, I’d make everybody turn off their phones for the first two hours of the day. My guess is productivity would go through the roof.
3. When my brain is done writing, usually when I’ve got a thousand words or more into the computer, a couple blogs written and I’m getting sloppy, I turn my phone back on. I normally have a couple text messages and a few e-mails and rarely a voicemail. When your phone is off, people tend to find a solution that is smarter than you could have come up with.
4. I respond to everything immediately. People have been waiting, so I get it all done at once. This work is normally completed in about ten minutes. No kidding. An entire morning of interruptions that would have derailed my work is taken care of in minutes. I’ve never had anybody dissatisfied with having to wait a couple hours for a clear, focussed response.
5. I leave my phone on for the rest of the day, handling calls and text messages as they come in. The rest of the day I deal with side work, stuff like getting a package out, a letter written, a meeting with a lawyer or something like this.
Since I’ve adopted the phone off morning, I’ve noticed I am less stressed throughout the day. In fact, if my morning gets derailed by an interruption, I can’t help but think I didn’t get enough written that morning, and well into the evening, when I am with friends, I am still thinking about how much I have to catch up on the next day. But now, I am not thinking about work at all. If the writing is done, and if I gave it a focussed few hours, I am a much better friend, and I’d even say a better person in general.