It's hard to believe that it's been 4 months since my 4 hour workday experiment. I look back on that time with fondness--those were the days when I could be done working by noon, when I had time to eat breakfast each morning, and when I actually found myself thinking "What should I do with all this extra time?".
Since then, I've sort of fallen off the wagon. Today I woke up at 5:45am, and before doing anything I turned on my computer, just to do a "quick check" of email.
Before long I found myself working on posts for my blog, doing research, visiting other folks' blogs and seeing what they were up to. I got caught up in the momentum and decided to dive into client work, and after that I went back to working on writing and researching posts for eSoup.
Then I noticed my stomach rumbling. I looked at the clock and saw that it was after 12pm, and I was still in the midst of doing the longest "quick check" in the history of mankind.
That's 6 hours straight on the internet, time that has evaporated in a poof into thin air. Breakfast was by-passed. Lunch was forgotten. The disheartening thing is that I'm not even finished with everything yet. If I keep on the pace that I'm going now, I can see that I'll be working into the night again.
To tell you the truth, I've been slipping for a few weeks now. Today's "quick check" fiasco was simply the cry for help that I needed to get my own attention. Obviously it's time to do a refresher, to get back to the basics and try to get my time back under control. The good news is that I've done this before, so I know that it works. Here's the plan:
Have a set start and finish time. I'm going from 10am-12pm breaking for lunch, and then coming back from 12:30pm-2:30pm. Of course if you're playing along at home, you can do what fits your schedule.
Plan out the day ahead of time. Write down and prioritize what needs to be done that day before turning on the computer
Firewall time for each activity. I've noticed that my time on the computer can be broken down into a few categories: client work, eSoup (writing, researching, and responding to comments), participating in various online communities, and admin stuff for my own business. I've written down a goal of how much time I'd like to spend on each one of these items so that my total hours on the computer sum up to 4 hours. I then scheduled each block of time on my dayplanner and do the activity at its scheduled time.
At the end of the work time, turn off the computer. Duh, right? This sounds like an obvious step, but it's actually the tricky part. After "work time", it's tempting to say, "Alright, now I get to play!" and then go surfing the net, but that's how the trouble starts.
Unlike reading a book or going to a movie, exploring the internet is an activity that has no end. It's like trying to take a quick stroll through the Amazon jungle. Once you saunter in there, you're not coming out any time soon.
Aside from the net surfing, the thing that will be the biggest challenge to get under control is the blogging time. Many of you have blogs yourselves, so you know that, although it's completely fun and worthwhile, maintaining a blog is a major time investment. The client work and the work on my own business is actually the easiest part of the day for me. The area where things start to get out of hand is with the blogging, online socializing and internet surfing.
Another part of the refresher:
Steve Pavlina specializes in productivity and had lots of great tips that I incorporated into my plan. One hint he gave was: Do not try to force yourself to work harder. This doesn't work. What he recommends is to severely limit the total amount of time you spend working each day, and then see what happens.
Steve says, "Once your brain realizes that working time is scarce, you suddenly become a lot more efficient because you have to be. When you have tight time constraints, you will usually find a way to get your work done. But when you have all the time in the world, it's too easy to be inefficient."
Tomorrow is day one for me. I'll let you know how it goes!