Getting any time by myself seems to be impossible. The pressures are just always there. I never have an empty plate. I never think, “What will I do today?” My to-do lists are never ending.
To get that time, I have finally realized that I need to make an appointment with myself. I have to get away. When I do, I find that my performance everywhere goes up.
Here are 7 Steps for An Effective Appointment with yourself:
1. Make an appointment with yourself. Put it on the calendar and block the time.
2. Have a specific goal in mind. When you review your calendar for the upcoming week, your mind takes note of that upcoming appointment. If you have a goal in mind, your subconscious begins to work on it for you.
3. Turn off the mobile device. (Gulp. Gasp! This one isn’t easy for me.)
4. Turn off your Internet connection. Your brain needs uninterrupted time. If your email keeps coming in, you know you will open it. It’s not just me, is it? You know that unopened envelope in the corner or the little sound of the email as it whooshes into your inbox? Irresistible, right? Try a software program like Freedom, allowing you to lock out the Internet.
5. Find a quiet place (or at least a place where you are less likely to be distracted). Before I had an office, I would book a conference room for a meeting with myself. I’ve been known to go to the library for this time, too.
6. Give yourself 12 minutes. One of the reasons blocked time on a single goal is effective is because you are tuning out the distractions. It takes your brain a while to clear everything else and focus. If something comes to mind that seems important for another project, write a little notation and think, “I will remember this later. I am letting it go for now. My goal today is to _____.”
7. Commit. Don’t cancel the appointment and move it at every chance. And don’t set yourself up with some ridiculous goal like writing a massive report in an hour. Just block the time and start. The discipline will begin to develop for you. I often spend time in a personal brainstorm. A creative writing class I had in high school began with us just writing as fast as we could. I’ve adapted that practice to work. For instance, I may block an hour to write about the changing market, where it’s headed, and what we should do to adapt. When I’m done, I review my ideas and may pick a few out to bring back to the office.