- Rita Perea is president and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Consulting Associates, specializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.
Readers of my recent blog posts have sent some great questions and I have been asked to share more about a specific work-life balance technique in a previous post. Today's post responds to those questions.
Has this ever happened to you? You are driving home after work wondering what the heck you accomplished that day and feeling overwhelmed that your projects are now a full day further behind than they were yesterday. You panic. Then you let out a heavy sigh, knowing that you will not enjoy your evening because your mind will be focused on the work waiting for you in the morning. This makes you even more anxious and focused on the projects waiting on your desk. Pretty soon you realize that your thoughts are in a downward spiral and you begin to wonder what you can do differently to be sure that the work drama and interruptions do not gobble up your day.
Enter the “magic 30”... Creating 30 minutes of uninterrupted and distraction-free time in your schedule each morning. This six-step strategy can work incredibly well to help you regain the feeling of accomplishment each day, which leads to less work anxiety and better work-life balance.
Step One: When you arrive at work, do not automatically turn on your computer to scan your email or pick up your phone to check for voice messages. (I can hear the gasps and objections right now. Stay with me, here. It will be well worth it, I promise!) Instead, and this is important, close your office door. If you are in an open space sharing situation, politely let those seated next to you know that you are working on a critical project and need 30 minutes of uninterrupted time.
Step Two: Take out your highest priority project and place it on your desk. Or open your computer to print out your highest priority project. (Caution- Do not sneak a peek at your email while printing out your project!)
Step Three: Set the alarm on your mobile phone to ring in 30 minutes. (Caution- Do not sneak a look at your email while setting your phone alarm!)
Step Four: Work on your project for 30 blissful, uninterrupted minutes until your phone alarm signals that you can stop.
Step Five: Decide if you want to continue to work on your priority project for a few more minutes or not. Once you get started it is easy to keep going. If you want to keep working, set your alarm for an additional 15 minutes or more.
Step Six: When your alarm signals the end of your uninterrupted time, move away from your desk. Open your office door. Signal to your space sharing friends that you are at a stopping point on your critical project. Bask (really bask) in the feeling of accomplishment you now have from making progress on that priority project.
When you emerge from your 30-minute cocoon of uninterrupted time, give yourself permission to turn on your computer, check your email, check your voice mail. Finally, the addictive itch to see what’ s up with others can be scratched.
Revel in the fact that no matter which fires you are tasked with putting out, you will leave work with the feeling that you have accomplished something today. You can enjoy your evening participating in activities that you enjoy instead of being anxious about unfinished work projects.
Make a promise to yourself to repeat the “magic 30” again tomorrow, and then for the rest of the week. You are developing a new habit. Keep it going.
There now, doesn’t that deep sense of accomplishment feel amazing? You bet it does!