For some time now at work I have been suffering silently, it’s taken me so long to work out what the issues have been with my inability to focus for long hours to get work done, to enjoy my work and feel energised and fulfilled by what I do. It has hindered me every day to work with a dull ache in the back of my head and painful tense muscles, day after day after day.
I have realised that over the last few years, my life has fallen into a trap of checking email so much that the hours get lost, just waiting for emails to come in, reading them and replying to them, but it’s not just client emails that have been an issue, the constant stream of sales emails from old random email sign up forms, product registrations and warranty form filling. My day-to-day life has just become overrun with communications, each one sapping away a little of my time and eroding my ability to focus on getting the work that needs completing finished, started on or progress made on it.
I am listening to Deep Work by Cal Newport audiobook in the car to and from work and so much of what he has to say makes so much sense. Back in the good old days when there was no email, no social media or countless other distractions that we have nowadays work got done and everyday people could focus without the constant barrage of information being consumed. Please, don’t think I am email and social media bashing, they have been and are great inventions and have revolutionised our ability to communicate with each other, but for me I just want to get my life back, to switch off from work when my workday is finished or it’s the weekend to spend time with my family.
We only have so much energy that we can use each day, mental or physical. The mental work of design drains all my focus, willpower and mental energy quickly compared to physical work and I know that this can impact my clients who want me to solve their problems, build or design something for them or help them in some other way. By mostly consuming, stopping and starting work or reacting to the latest incoming piece of information I am not doing all that I can for them, my mental resolve is fragmented even if they might be the ones send me the information themselves.
So I have decided, for the good of my own mental health, energy, concentration and to provide the best service to my clients to now only check email twice per day, process my email and respond where necessary. I’m have also removed all email access from my phone. I have taken myself off of Facebook, although my Facebook page for 3 Creative still exists and I will ramp up the content on the platform over the next few months, but I no longer use my personal profile and I am not active on any other social platform on a personal level, social media for business purposes is a different matter and can be “batch processed” without having to actually spend time on the platform and using 3rd party software. I am also batching my work into hour long segments with 15 minutes break after an hour of focused work. I am also having 1 hour off for lunch to reset and recharge my brain. Weekends, unless planned for will be family time and extra hours in the evening will be at my discretion. My brain needs downtime to rest and relax without having to think about work, If I am not doing these things then I am not working to the best of my ability.
I will be as choosy as possible when and how I respond to people, not because I want to be a pain but, because I need the time to get the work I need to get done… done and without interruption and to the highest standard I can achieve. This will take some work, trials and testing but If I don’t respond to you straight away, please don’t panic and if it’s urgent, then please call me on 01242 370461 if I don’t answer, leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.