Blackout Times


BY Sam Davies


11 January 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

You will often hear small business owners complaining about not having enough hours in the day. Oh I feel your pain.

You will also often hear wildly successful business owners preaching about working smarter and not harder. Ok sure that sounds great and I agree.

The reality of the situation for most of us running a business or managing a team is that all your good intentions (and organised calendar and Trello boards and post it notes and sprint plans) fly out the window as soon as the first phone call for the day comes in (our website is down, so and so is sick…). I have a solid weekly / daily / hourly plan setup ready to rock on Sunday night and at the end of every day, I have got perhaps 50% of it done. I don’t think I am slacking off (though the DN crew might tell you different) so where is that time going?

I know where it is going because this is 2017 and everything is tracked. Rescue-Time tracks everything I do in the digital world, it has been for almost 5 years now. I know that last year I spent over 13 weeks (500 hours) in meetings. I know that I spent almost 8 weeks alone chatting on Slack and 10 weeks in Gmail plus a scary amount of time on facebook… That is 33 weeks in face to face meetings, Internal meetings on Slack and writing emails. Ok so that is a lot of communication and that is a big part of what I do, so without further insight those numbers mean nothing. It is how those 33 weeks are distributed through the 48 or so I worked last year that are interesting to me.

Regardless of what anyone says, EMAIL is still important. I could not run DN without it and don’t foresee anytime soon that it will go away. So is internal communication on Slack. The thing is though, I know for a fact, that like Facebook, I use those two platforms as heavy crutches for procrastination. Three swipes of the mouse and I am away from that boring proposal and chatting to Nick about.. Whatever.

Email and chat apps and social are just like wine, used in moderation and with due diligence they are beneficial. However, nips from the goonbag every 15 minutes results in poor productivity and many hours down the drain (see my life aged 18-25).

Over the Christmas break and during our retreat to Bali last year I noticed that while working remotely and shorter daily hours I actually did a better job of blasting through my most important tasks. I might have only worked for 2 hours a day but I was laser focussed on what needed to be achieved and only did that. No time for ‘busy work’. I was also not on direct call with clients or staff, they were not expecting me to be there at the drop of a hat, so I didn’t feel the need to check my inbox or notification panels.

So in 2017 I am aiming to become more conscious of this reality and will be operating what I am calling BLACKOUT TIMES. 2 hours every day where I prioritise my most critical tasks, turn off my phone, slack, Gmail and close my door. Our attention spans are begging to be broken at all times, I plan to exercise some restraint and make my best effort to focus in on the things I need to get done for the day first thing. I can then shift my attention to clients and my staff knowing that I have at least ticked a few important boxes.

I will be chatting about this via Instagram every Monday and Snapchat every Thursday. Follow us @digitalnoir to tune in!

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir