Brass Tack Thinking - Schedule An Immersion DayOne thing I try to do every couple of weeks is have an immersion day.

That’s a day when I don’t schedule any meetings or phone calls, and can devote myself entirely to a project, to writing, or just to getting my thoughts in order and planning if that’s what’s needed.

As a rule once I’m caught up in something, it also ends up limiting the time I spent chatting or doing my usual sharing on social networks, though depending on the focus of the day I do end up doing a lot of reading or research and absorption of information, so it’s not exactly “offline”. Which I don’t find necessary for productivity despite the lectures you get online, but that’s another rant for another day.

Some immersion days, it’s just me and the Moleskine. I find that in early stages of ideas, or when I’m trying to organize swirling thoughts like for a speech or a presentation, I do best with pen on paper. Maybe you use a mind map. But immersion day can mean quiet and contemplation if that’s what the task at hand calls for.

Immersion day another time might be going for a long walk. Maybe it’s cranking the tunes and blasting through the inbox, or going on a writing frenzy. It might be a day of focused, concentrated work on a presentation or a project that takes more than an hour to get done.

The point of the day isn’t really what you do or how you do it, it’s that you do it. That you take one day every so often to draw boundaries between you and whatever things you consider distractions or interruptions for the day, and give yourself permission to focus your attention wherever it suits you best. It’s about you setting your own agenda rather than letting it be set for you by outside influences.

And yes, I work at home and have the ability to dictate my schedule more easily on a daily basis. But if you’re in an office environment with shared calendars, block off a day (and don’t wait until you “have time”, because you won’t). If you get questioned about what you’re doing with that time or why you’ve got it marked off, have an honest conversation with your boss about your need for focused, uninterrupted time to work and get organized. Few managers worth their salt will argue with that.

The unexpected happens, and sometimes duty demands that I take a call on short notice, and I’m happy to do that when a client or a friend needs something that simply can’t wait. But largely and unapologetically, I have times when I am simply not available.¬†Somehow, all the “necessary” things still manage to fit in with room to spare (or it makes me more selective about how I choose to spend my time), and my sanity is a little more preserved as a result.

Is it easy to work it in all the time? No. But that’s why it’s necessary and worthwhile. And we find time for the things we value. This is just one trick in my arsenal, and your mileage is sure to vary. But maybe it’ll give you an idea or two to create something that works for you.