The blog

Previous article

Next article

13 Nov

How to keep time you have reserved for yourself free

Datum: 2013-11-13 09:59

When we have work to do which requires our full atten­tion and con­cen­tra­tion it can be a good idea to some­times reserve time to be alone (with the door shut and the phone turned off).

But many of us have the ten­den­cy to can­cel the alone-time we have reserved as soon as, for instance, some­one asks us to attend a meet­ing that par­tic­u­lar morn­ing. We remove the note Alone-time” in the cal­en­dar and attend the meet­ing. What we had intend­ed to do dur­ing this time is instead done dur­ing a few late nights, which is not always nei­ther con­ve­nient nor pleas­ant, and per­haps the result is not of the high­est qual­i­ty either.

What if we val­ued the time we have set aside to be alone more and stood by our deci­sion to keep that time-slot free from oth­er engage­ments? Wouldn’t this make our work more peace­ful and enjoyable?

Per­haps this par­tic­u­lar change of habit does not come easy. Don’t wor­ry, help is on the way.

Do this

Here are four tips to help you stick to your plan and the time you have set aside for your­self (and your tasks).

  1. Book some­thing that is dif­fi­cult to cancel.

    Hire some kind of expert who will help you dur­ing the reserved time or book a con­fer­ence-room in a hotel. No mat­ter what you do, you will be much less inclined to can­cel an exter­nal engage­ment on short notice if it will cost you, and it will there­by be eas­i­er to stick to your orig­i­nal plan.

  2. Make the con­se­quences of con­tin­u­ous­ly can­celling the reserved alone-time explic­it­ly clear to yourself.

    One prob­a­ble con­se­quence is that you do what oth­ers want from you before what you had intend­ed to do or are respon­si­ble for doing. You tend to solve the short-term prob­lems before deal­ing with the more exten­sive long-term challenges.

    To clar­i­fy the imme­di­ate and future ben­e­fits of pri­or­i­tiz­ing dif­fer­ent­ly you can for instance take an emp­ty sheet of paper and write Undis­turbed time alone is impor­tant to me since …” and so on. Con­tin­ue list­ing as many rea­sons (since…”) as you can think of. Save the paper where it is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to you when­ev­er you need some reas­sur­ance that it is OK and even desir­able to work alone from time to time.

  3. Cre­ate a thresh­old to can­celling the sched­uled time which is high­er than your ten­den­cy to dis­miss your own importance.

    Give your­self a pun­ish­ment or fine of some kind when you can­cel time to work alone. Decide that you will give X amount of mon­ey to a char­i­ty orga­ni­za­tion every time you can­cel on your­self. Or, let a can­cel­la­tion result in 50 push-ups right where you stand. It is OK to can­cel, but it will cost you – either finan­cial­ly or in phys­i­cal effort.

  4. Tell your col­leagues that you are con­scious of how you some­times tend to ignore your own plan­ning as soon as they ask you to do some­thing else. 

    Ask them to help you in your aspi­ra­tion to pri­or­i­tize bet­ter and more accu­rate­ly by being atten­tive to if you come to the res­cue too quick­ly when asked to help. Please ask me if I real­ly have time and do not actu­al­ly have some­thing else and more impor­tant to do right now.”

Make room for your­self and hence make room for more opportunities

If you strive to work alone once in a while you will get more of your impor­tant and long-run tasks done with bet­ter fore­sight than today. You will feel less stressed and more sat­is­fied, which is a whole lot more pleasant.

Your busi­ness will ben­e­fit from your more con­scious and sys­tem­at­ic pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, rather than hav­ing you get caught up in all those small in-the-spur-of-the-moment-tasks you have been focus­ing on completing.

What’s your method?

How do you make sure to keep those pre­cious hours of alone-time free from engage­ments even when your cal­en­dar is ful­ly booked and you keep receiv­ing requests for new meet­ings? A pen­ny for your thoughts.