The science of time management over the past couple decades offers a clever solution to our modern dilemma of always feeling distracted by notifications, emails and pings: time blocking. It's where you carve out small chunks of time each day reserved for productive work.
And yet the traditional approach to time blocking doesn't go far enough. It can give you a taste of your true creative potential, but you never quite get to experience the full meal.
Introducing the 'Mega Day.'
There's a simple formula for determining the return on investment (ROI) of time blocking. The more time you reserve, the greater your productivity returns. Carve out 15 minutes, and you will experience a small, but meaningful, gain. Carve out an hour or two, as most time blocking methodologies suggest, and you will experience even greater returns. But carve out an entire day that spans beyond the confines of 9am to 5pm, and you will experience a kind of productive enlightenment?
This is what I call the Mega Day. It's a strategy that came out of a period of extreme time scarcity several months ago. During this period, I was starting a new book, while simultaneously working in my company and writing these weekly columns for Inc.. The math didn't work. Not only did I not have enough time, I also didn't have the space to think big and bring my highest attention to these projects.
So I made a deal with myself. "Each week," I said, "I'm going to reserve one massive day for my highest and best, uninterrupted, work." Starting at 7am and ending at 7pm on each of these days, I didn't answer phone calls, return emails, or even open my inbox. I gave myself permission to dive head-first into the highest priority creative and productive tasks on my plate.
The results were astonishing. For one glorious day each week, I now had the ability to develop a set of ideas in the deepest possible way. And what I found is I didn't just get a good day's work accomplished during each Mega Day, I generally got a week's worth of work completed in this one, massive, 12 hour chunk.
Here's how to make the most out of your Mega Days, too:
Block your Mega Days in advance.
Even short calls, quick glances at your email, or brief meetings interrupt the continuous and undistracted flow of Mega Day. So it is essential to reserve these days far in advance. I try to populate my calendar with Mega Days for at least one to two months in advance.
Once you schedule them, you must then defend this time with your life. Everyone you know will try to grab a piece of this time, and they will offer compelling reasons to do so. Your task is to defend this sacred day at all costs.
Give yourself permission to drop 'off grid.'
You need to exercise internal discipline. You will want to check your email, reply to texts, or sneak a quick peek at social media. Resist the urge. Set up an away message on email and make a deal with yourself that you will resist the urge to distract yourself so that you can give yourself this gift of radical innovation and productivity.
Enlist the help of your family and coworkers.
Most of us can't simply drop "off the grid" without impacting the lives of others. In my case, Mega Day requires the help of my wife. During each Mega Day, I ask her to drop off and pick up our child and to manage all of our life logistics. In return, I happily pick up a greater share of these logistics on other days.
Asking for the support of those around you is crucial to the success of your Mega Day. It creates a community of support for this noble project of spending one day each week delivering your best work to the world.
As with any time management and productivity strategy, carving out space for a Mega Day every week, every two weeks, or even every month can sound daunting. You might even be thinking to yourself, "I'm too busy to figure out the logistics of doing a Mega Day."
And yet you will find that the benefits are profound. During your Mega Day you will likely experience an expansion of time. You will think big thoughts that would never arise on a normal day. You will get more done in a day than you do in a normal week. And your clarity of insight and big picture vision will save you from wasting weeks or months worth of time on projects that no longer add value or make sense.