There are two pictures of me that I think are stellar. I’m 6 or 7 in them. In one I’m missing a front tooth, and I’m wearing a red plaid shirt. I have short hair up top, and you guessed it, long hair in the back.
The other picture is almost the same, except I upgrade to a rat tail. Same red shirt. Missing a front tooth. Same short hair on top.
Both of these were my school pictures for different years.
The mullet is something I have experience with.
The Mullet Method of Deep Work has nothing to do with the hairstyle though. You don’t need to get a haircut. You do need to work in two different blocks of time though.
Maker Up Front
I get up pretty much daily at 4:45 am. I walk the dog, and then I head out to Starbucks and sit down and work from 6 am to 9 am. During that time my phone is in “Do Not Disturb” mode. The only way for anyone to make my phone make any noise is if my wife phones me.
Her text messages get nothing.
My iPad has no iMessage and no notifications of any sort. It has no social media. It’s set up to only be a writing device.
Those three hours in the morning are my Maker time. I read for an hour which usually means I do some writing of ideas as the book prompts me.
Then I write for two hours.
In a call1 with Jay Papasan the author of The ONE Thing, we talked about the fact that at first an hour of focused work felt like an epic amount of time. I’d feel like I was fighting focus all the time. I’d continually be wondering what I should do.
Now my three hours of focus feels like it’s not long enough. I wish I could make my work have four hours of focused time every morning of the week.
If you’re struggling with getting your creative work done, then start with your creative work.
“But Curtis I have to jump on support right away!”
No, you don’t. 99% of the emails you’ll get about support can wait for another hour or three. Almost everyone is reasonable, and those few that aren’t wouldn’t have been reasonable even if you responded within two seconds of their support request.
The problem is you. You need to get comfortable sucking as support for a few hours in the morning so that you can keep moving things forward.
“But I could never get up that early.”
Fair enough, I’ve always been a morning person, so it feels natural to me. I find that most people who tell me this don’t have a problem getting up early, they have a problem going to bed late.
They start Netflix at 8 pm and then binge watch whatever show they are currently letting drain their brain. When 12 am finally rolls around, they decide it’s time to do some good adulting, and they go to bed.
Of course, you have trouble getting up early. You’re setting yourself up for failure. If you want to try getting up early and focusing, then cancel Netflix and stop watching anything at night. Go to bed by 9 pm.
No, it won’t be easy, and it will take a few weeks to get into the routine. But the problem is almost never getting up early so don’t fool yourself.
If you’re just not a morning person, then just start your day with focus. On Tuesday I get my two oldest kids ready for school and get them both to their different buildings. That means I get up at 6 am and walk the dog. Then wrangle kids from 7 – 8 before I take my 3-year-old to preschool. Then I get back from preschool and walk my 7-year-old to school.
I don’t get to start work on Tuesday until 9 am and the first thing I do is have three hours of focused time. I do the same thing to start my day. I read for an hour, and then I write for two hours.
Your focused time doesn’t have to be at 6 am like mine often is, but it should be first so that you can get it done and feel like the day was a winner right from the get-go.
Manager in the back
Now the second chunk of my day is usually from 12 – 3 pm. During this section of my day, I’ll have Slack open for questions. I might have email open, and I’ll book calls if they have to happen outside of my regular call times.
If I have to check email on a day, then it happens in the afternoon.
Those three hours are my manager block. I can happily have it because I’ve already accomplished my significant tasks of the day. I’ve written a few thousand words. I’ve developed more content for my site. I’ve written a guest post or a script for a video course.
If my day had to stop right then, I could say with confidence that it was a successful day.
“Okay, so why can’t I start with Manager Time?”
How we start our day will dictate how the rest of it goes. I stopped even looking at a screen before I had coffee because I continually found that when I started with scattered items my day was scattered.
I had trouble focusing on anything at all.
When I start the day with focus, then I can focus. My brain is prepped for focus.
I’ve seen this play out over and over again with my coaching clients as they adopt a focused start to the day. When they start with focus, they can continue to focus. When they begin with scattered, they can’t help but be scattered for the rest of the day.
What about 9 -12
Oh, you noticed that ‘missing’ time block did you. I didn’t say I did anything during my 9 – 12 block because I often do little that would be considered work during that block of time.
I rarely open a screen unless it’s to change the podcast I’m listening to while running.
During that block, I rest2. I hang out with my kids, or I run, or I take a meandering bike ride to get home and then hang out with my kids. I help with homeschool.
Having this break is a crucial part of having energy later in the day to do good work.
Look at your calendar for next week. Block out your focused blocks of work in the morning and be okay with “sucking” at those random scattered tasks during your focused blocks.
Stick with it for at least four weeks, then tell me how it’s going.
Have an awesome day!
PS: Stop struggling with focus. You can get more worthwhile work done without more butt in chair time. Book a free call and let’s talk about your schedule.
photo credit: legofenris cc
- This was with the Read to Lead book club. You can join me if you want to get access to awesome authors and an awesome group of people. ↩
- We’ll talk more about the importance of rest in the next post. ↩