The Speed of Life
Is your typical day a chaotic free-for-all filled with overflowing emails, last-minute meetings, and impending deadlines?
Are you regularly frustrated by how little progress you make on your projects?
Do you feel bone-weary tired at the end of the day – totally depleted and unable to focus?
You aren’t alone. Not by a long shot.
As the pace of life continues to speed up it is increasingly common for more and more distractions – technological and otherwise – to pervade our workdays.
These distractions not only make it hard to stay in control and focus on projects but they also rapidly decrease your brain’s energy leaving your whole body exhausted.
Today I want to give you a simple framework for how to structure your workday that will minimize distractions, keep you in control, and move your projects forward consistently.
As with any strategy I offer, you need to mold it to fit your life.
How? Experiment. Notice what works for you and what doesn’t. Tweak from there.
The 3P Framework
The 3P Framework for a productive workday is about balancing your time across three specific areas: Planning, Projects, and People.
This means dedicating time to these areas everyday. Let’s review each of them in a bit more detail to see how this strategy can work in your life.
You’ve heard it here before folks: Investing in planning time is the quickest way out of time debt and overwhelm.
Planning time will take anywhere between 5 – 15% of your week depending on how many projects you are currently managing.
- Create a short planning ritual for the day or week to clarify your top 3 priorities. (Download this free guide to help you here.)
- Remember to separate planning from doing. Schedule separate time to break down a project before you start working on it.
- Pick a planning tool. Are you right-brained creative mind-mapper? A left-brained linear Excel user? Experiment to see what works best for you.
Protecting time each day to actually get your work done is the difference between the people that leave work on time and those that work all hours of the night. People typically need between 30% – 60% of their time focused on project work.
We all have time-protection muscles that can be strengthened over time. Here are a few strategies to grow these muscles and move your projects forward with far less stress.
- Block project time right into your schedule
- Shut down your email, instant messenger, and phone
- Close your door and let people know when you will be available again
- Leave the premises, find a coffee shop or a conference room if need be
Remember that working long hours is not a sign of being more productive but of having weaker boundaries.
Email, meetings, drop-in conversations, brainstorming sessions, calls to prospects – your day needs to include time for the people in your world. This is separate from planning time and focused project time.
People generally need to spend 30% – 70% of their time working with others. This is time when you are available.
- Others’ requests will take over your day if you allow them. Get clear on your priorities before checking email, meetings, etc.
- Determine your best window of time for meetings and phone calls and funnel as many as possible into this time frame.
- Remember that you decide your availability – not other people.
How do you manage distractions at work? What tips can you offer for structuring your workday? Be sure to share in the comments below.