Get out of the routine.
Sometimes it’s a change of scenery. If you’re one of the growing number permitted to occasionally work from home you already know the value of this. Taking the laptop to a coffee shop is only the beginning. Find a park bench near coffee shop. Try taking it to a university library. Try working at different times than you normally would.
If you’re in a growth phase of your career, you’re probably taking on more than your share of the workload, which means you’re also not working the 40 hour work week. Instead of being annoyed by it, accept that this is part of what it takes to get to the next plateau. That doesn’t mean you have to like it. But it also doesn’t mean you have to hate it.
Ever tried saving up low brain power functions for a sprint session? Try triaging email on Saturday afternoon over brunch. Maybe find somewhere with a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar. It doesn’t feel much like work.
Turn your phone over.
One of my favorite things to do when I need to focus is to turn my smart phone over. It’s a simple trick that’s effective. While I like to think that what I do is super important…let’s face it, I’m not exactly a surgeon. If I don’t fire off the response to that text in the next half hour, no one is going to die.
It’s not easy. We have trained ourselves to be slaves to our devices. Break free.
Turn the wifi off.
One of my favorite ways to focus is to shut the laptop and grab a piece of paper. It changes how you think. There aren’t alerts popping up in your face making you question if you have ADHD:
“Becky likes your pic on Facebook.”
“Dale sent you an email: where are we at with the proposal?”
“Calendar reminder: pick up dry cleaning”
“Task list reminder: schedule meeting with Mr. Zimmerman”
“You have a LinkedIn request.”
“Calendar reminder: Need to schedule a meeting to discuss what meetings we need to have.”
The other reason why I start analog is that with creativity it is critical. When someone starts a logo concept or storyboard on their computer they are using tools that they are familiar with. When you start analog your mind is opened to possibilities that you might not have otherwise considered. The point at which you need to transfer it over to the digital world will allow you to understand what new skills you need to develop to execute.
Take a hike.
Sometimes all you need to clear your head is a ten minute walk. Check out this infographic of famous thinkers who made taking a stroll part of their regular routine.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Honore de Balzac
Charles DickensW.H. Auden