2 Best Ways to Divide Your Work Day
Small business owners wear many hats. In a typical month you might pitch your product at an industry event, hunch over your desk for hours examining your financials, mentor a new employee, or even get down on your hands and knees to sort out a busted copier.
This diversity is great—few entrepreneurs miss the repetitiveness of many corporate jobs—but it's also challenging. The social vibrancy you need for a networking event requires a very different head space than the focus diligence of bookkeeping.
Switching between different modes of working has costs, both mentally as you lose time shifting your brain into the right gear for the next item on your to-do list, and simply in terms of precious minutes wasted on logistics. Just think of the unproductive hours you've spent driving back to the office after an errand or digging out the research you need to answer a question.
So what can be done to minimize the time you lose switching between different work modes? A fun, short video of productivity tips from this year's New York Times Small Business Summit has a simple but powerful suggestion:
Organize your calendar into "in" days and "out" days. An in day is one when you hunker down and focus on your paperwork, make phone calls and don't leave the premises. Alternately, an "out" day in one where you book meetings for breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee, you schedule client visits, and run errands. It's just a day when you're completely out.
By batching similar tasks together, this technique allows you not only to reduce the time you spend running around town, but also helps you get your mind in the right game for the day and keep it there.
Hopefully, this means you won't lose time, say, waiting for your brain to settle down after a lively lunch so you can concentrate on writing a blog post. Nor will you be happily in the flow of work only to glance at the clock and groan, realizing it's almost time for a meeting you're not in the mood for.
Interested in more productivity tips? The two-minute video delivers a couple more in entertaining style.
Would you benefit from setting aside some days entirely for in-office concentration and others for going out into the world?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.