September 27, 2020

When did you last disconnect for several hours from your electronic devices, from the people around you, and from your obligations?

For me it was last Thursday. Not that I do this often—I’m writing about it because it’s unusual.

See, I run my business mostly by myself. That means I’m responsible for creating content, keeping the books, supporting my students, doing the marketing, and determining the business strategy—the whole shebang. This past week, that last item on the list, business strategy, needed some of my attention.

It’s the end of Q3 now and I’ve started to plan Q4. (Incidentally, if you’d like to learn a system for planning your quarters, Big-Picture Productivity is a great course for you, and now is the perfect time to enroll.) Planning ahead requires some space to think, but with my day-to-day obligations it can be tricky to make that space. So I decided to disconnect.

My mission: update my business’s marketing strategy. I now offer three courses (rather than just two) and I’ve learned a lot about which types of people I like to work with (and which types I don’t!) so my marketing needs some adjustment.

I left the house without any electronic devices and headed over to a café. I simply brought a pen and a notebook.

It took me 45 minutes to get to this café by public transit and 45 minutes to get back. I was there for about 1.5 hours. So in total, it was a three-hour absence from my electronic devices. With no distractions from notifications and no ability to look up anything that came to mind, I was able to keep my brain engaged with my marketing strategy for most of that time. I felt so calm and relaxed, but also focused.

The result: a few notebook-pages with a draft marketing strategy that gave me a lot of clarity. Hurray for “deep work”!

Perhaps this doesn’t sound special to you. You might have already designed your life to include plenty of long stretches of time without any distractions. If so, kudos to you.

But I know for a fact that many of my students rarely make this kind of space for themselves. If that’s you, find some space on your agenda in the coming week. Two hours, or three, or even four. Block them off. Go somewhere alone, with pen and paper but without your digital devices. Spend that time engaging with one important project that you normally don’t get around to. Then head home or return to your office and get cracking.

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