I've been using the time blocking technique that Cal Newport describes in his book DEEP WORK, which was a great read about how to manage your time specifically to promote deep focus for sustained periods. Time blocking has been particularly helpful in eliminating online distractions. No more opening a web browser and getting lost in clicks, forgetting why I went there in the first place. Now there are designated blocks for that. (The small email/web blocks in the pic.)
Here are the basics:
- Use a dotted or a graph notebook.
- Write the time in half-hour increments down the left side of the page.
- Next to the times, block out every minute of your working day. Leave time for breaks, food, etc. Plan for things to take longer than you think they should.
- When your plan shifts, as it will nearly every day, simply cross out the remaining blocks, and write your new schedule just to the right of those.
- When your plan shifts, don't give into temptation immediately. For instance, if you are in the middle of a work block and find you need to go online to retrieve an email to continue your work, don't immediately do it. Adjust your schedule to start the email block five or ten minutes later, so that you are still training yourself to wait.