Study Skill #11: Give Good Distractions a Time and a Place

We all have things to do, errands to run, people to see. These are what I would call “Good distractions”. They are things that we need to do in order to do our job but they are not the key object of our job itself. Michael Hyatt would call these “Backstage Tasks”. He has three categories of work: 1. Front-Stage Work – The main work we get paid for. “Front and center” on an acting stage. 2. Back-Stage Work – Preparation, planning, setup and maintenance tasks that are essential to our front-stage work but are not the “main thing”. Tasks like budgets, errands, research for scripts and research for writing are all examples of backstage work. 3. Off-Stage Work – This is a rejuvenating activity like going for a walk, unplugging, getting out in nature, reading a book and spending time with family and friends. Whatever restores you to be able to work better starting Monday.

The specific days are up to you, but he has his backstage work scheduled for Mondays and Fridays with his Front-Stage Work on Tuesday through Thursday and argues strongly that we should guard our weekends and plan Off-Stage work on them. And sure, there’s a bit of backstage work at the beginning and end of your workday routine, but give it a time and a place to live. I’ve been trying this imperfectly and to the extent I follow it, I see a huge boost in productivity. Batching like this solves the “attention residue” problem and allows me to focus. It gives a time and a place for me to do the tasks I need to do but are not my main work which frees me up to focus on the work that matters most. Try it. Your boss will thank you. Just talk to them first or else they will break your schedule.

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