In a work context there are two very different versions of you.
Version one is in the zone. They have their head down and they are fully focused, immersed in their craft. They find flow when they work on their art and they could go for hours. This is the writer writing, the painter painting, the analyst analysing and the sportsperson training. This type of work is unlimited, it takes as long as it takes to finish a masterpiece.
Version two is out of the zone. Instead of focusing on their art, they are engaged in collaboration, booked in meetings, and doing non-core work or admin. Rather than endless hours spent building, crafting, or tinkering, this time is broken up into tasks that take a few minutes or engagements that take a few hours. There is a beginning and an end to work of this nature.
If your work fits into those two compartments, here’s how to make both more effective:
Create a name for each version of your work so you know when it’s required. Maker and manager, the lone wolf and the social butterfly, the artist and the administrator or simply head down and head up. The labels might extend to labels in your calendar or to-do list. Appreciate that a different way of working is required for each.
Switching back and forth between these two versions is not productive, so figure out how to compartmentalise them within your week. Maybe you spend mornings as one and afternoons as another. Maybe you assign specific days to heads down work and others to heads up tasks. You might follow a cadence of multiple weeks as one and a short stint as the other.
Guard your boundaries
Once you know your ideal cadence, don’t let anything get in the way. Carving out time for your writing is no use if someone can pull you out of concentration. Trying to switch between short and long attention spans won’t serve your best work.
Reframe what’s required
In an ideal world, you have a clear schedule, blue skies and rolling hills when you’re being a maker. Everyone else gets on with their work, having respect for your time and taking care not to disturb you. In reality, this doesn’t happen. Rather than making time, you have to snatch it and steal it and prize it away. Books aren’t written in a few long stints; they are cobbled together from sentences scribbled in a rush. Let go of the need for everything to be perfect before beginning or sustaining.
There are two work versions of you. Appreciating their different requirements and creating space for both will set you up for success.