Building Zones: How to Get More Done on Your Projects

Web designers that freelance or work at small companies usually have a myriad of distractions that take away from projects. Whether it’s a client technical support issue or billing management, it seems as if everything in the world is aligned against us. By the end of the day we look at our project schedule and realize that very little got done.

This seems to be the price we pay for the freedom of doing things our way. Fortunately, it’s an easy issue to overcome. I’ve outlined below proven ways to dedicate more quality time with your projects without sacrificing the other parts of your business. They’re proven because I’ve implemented them with success and am confident you can too.

Find the zone

The zone is that block of time where you have the most energy and creative power. This could be in the morning, afternoon or even in the middle of the night. Ideally, you would have two or more zone periods since you’re probably juggling multiple projects. Identify when these zones occur and then block them off as project-only times. You’ll use these zones to do only things that relate to a single project with a specific start and end time.

Prepare for the zone

About an hour or two before your zone is about to hit, prepare for it by writing out what you need to accomplish. This could be a simple checklist of objectives and tasks. Each item you list out should contribute to the progression of the project and you should be able to complete them within the allotted zone time.

Schedule around the zone

After you’ve identified your zone times, schedule the rest of your day to support it. If possible, schedule meetings before or after a zone time so they don’t conflict. If you have phone calls or emails to return, do that at a specific time that doesn’t coincide with your project time. I would recommend planning out your complete day on a piece of note paper so that you can move seamlessly from one task to another.

Eliminate notifications during the zone

While you’re in the zone, you need to minimize, or ideally, eliminate any sort of notification that could interrupt you. This means email, phone and social media. Turn it all off and don’t check it. I even lock my office door to prevent any physical interruptions. If a client has an emergency, I give them a special toll-free number they can call which rings to my cell phone.

Constantly evaluate your effectiveness

Once you start getting comfortable with your routine, you know it’s time to shake things up. Being too comfortable can lead to laziness which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. Instead, determine what is and isn’t working with your project methodologies and brainstorm new ways of doing things. Maybe you aren’t as effective in the morning as you thought you were, so try scheduling your zones for the afternoon. Or maybe you have too much free time on your hands and need to schedule a third or fourth zone time. Whatever the case, always check yourself to make sure you’re being effective with your projects and your time.

I hope these methods can help you streamline your daily project processes. Everyone has their own habits and ways of doing things, and I’m always interested in hearing about it. Leave a comment and let me know!

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