Removing daily distractions

Hey Guys,

Still strugling with being able to run cryptory => Non-technical post today!

I think it all started a few years ago when I was inspired by some minimalistic concepts. What I felt deep, deep inside was that in order to be happy we don’t necesarily need to have more and more all the time. Easy to say, much harder to apply. But what also brought a lot of my attention in that approach was exactly what subject of this post is about. Distractions.

My desktop has most of the time 0 icons. Not at all. Not even Trash Bin icon. Nothing. Just a picture in the background. Quite recently I also applied that concept to the desktop of my phone. Got a few folders at the very bottom ribbon, and rest of the desktop is entirely empty, showing my most favorite picture at the given time. It required of course removing majority of the apps from the phone, meaning no games at all, no facebook or other social apps. Just left a Messenger which I use entirely for communication with family. Email app, calendar, browser, SMS, photos. Just the crucial stuff left.

Notifications. In majority of the applications disabled on my phone. I see no red dots with numbers around app icons, even if new email arrived. I left just a few very carefully selected apps where I allowed for red notifications, without other types like a vibration or something. Efect was astonishing – a lot more peace, feeling much more relaxed when looking at the phone. If I want to check my emails, I check my emails. Not the other way.

Regarding email, I use two inboxes – work one and personal one. At the end of my day I usually have no emails at all. Meaning I categorize handled emails to folders, plan action items into calendar followed by deleting the email or copy-pasting to the event in the calendar, and pretty much I treat Inbox as a daily To-Do list. Sometimes I laugh to the fact I often describe my activities as: working in the email or working in the calendar. I will put a lot of meetings with just myself with quite sharp agenda, close the door to my room and do the assignement I gave it to myself. It also requires a lot of planning and focusing what I want to achieve during particular day/week/month. In between meetings I’ll try to clear inboxes as much as I can. And by the way, I’m daily receiving and sending, a lot, a lot of emails. It’s doable and definetely I recommend this practice.

Regarding distractions during the day I like to wake up quite early. My first alarm is at 5am followed by another one at 5:15am. Everyone else is sleeping, I have my 15 minutes to grab a coffee, double check calendar events for the day and sometimes quickly browse Google News. Quick shower and a walk with my dog around 6am. I really enjoy early morning walks with my dog, as still it’s quite calmly outside and during these walks I talk to myself. We can call it – monologues. It may be a preparation for one of the meetings, it may be training different scenarios of giving feedback to someone or just analyzing a meeting or a situation from past days. It can sometimes be even describing to myself something I want to focus on. 6:30am-7:00am breakfast preparation for the family and I try to be in the office around 7:30am depending on the traffic it could be sometimes 7:45am. Unless there’s a weather breakdown, we have lazy drivers on the streets so it ends up in me being in the office by 8am. Still early enough to respond to most important emails while not being so distracted by comming in guys. I try to avoid having meetings till 9am. It’s sometimes amazing how much you can achieve with limited time. I would even risk a hypothesis that the more is on the plate the better it gets organized and done quicker.

If I really, really need to concentrate on something I put my phone into night mode, so that only a few carefully selected numbers (family) can get through. Having unwanted call from a salesperson while working on something which requires being in “a zone” can distract me totally. From the other hand what is wrong with being kind of offline for an hour or two and focus on tasks. Another rule that could be applied is Pareto 80-20 principle, where 80% of most important tasks takes 20% of the time. While the other 20% less important actions takes rest of the time (80%).

Finally rule of open-closed doors. In general I’m trying to have a policy of open doors and for a question “Do you have time ?”, with a smile on my face answer “Yes, I do”, while in reality it’s not always the case. However if I’m on a call, or trying to work hard without distractions I simply close the doors with attached note “ON CALL”. There’s only one guy who constantly ignores that.. But he can. If he’s escalating something, it takes highest priority.

I would summarize this post as that iterative approach to increasing productivity brings great effects. Start slow, change one thing, one habbit and work on next items. Results may suprise you after some time.

Thanks for reading,
Łukasz.

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