Is your to-do list turning into a list of to-do lists? Maybe it’s time to try a “focus day”


Remember to email that client, call the supplier back, respond to that investor on LinkedIn, give your developer a ring about the site issue, chase up the invoice, prepare notes for your upcoming presentation, check your to-do-list, and yikes, that major proposal’s due tomorrow.

The list can go on and on when you’re an entrepreneur trying to build a great startup.

So amid all the chaos, how does one focus on what’s really important and get the most important tasks out of the way?

Try a “focus day”, says David Finkel, a former Pulitzer-prize winner and co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back. 

A “focus day” involves scheduling one day a week where you spend three to four hours on “deep, uninterrupted work”, Finkel writes in FastCompany.

The aim is to take yourself away from daily tasks like managing email, answering phone calls and discussions with employees, and invest energy into completing tasks that will return the greatest value to the business.

“Remember that Focus Days aren’t about being off by yourself—they’re about setting aside regular chunks of time to dig into your top value-producing activities,” says Finkel.

“That could mean sitting down to write up that key proposal you’ve been procrastinating on, or scheduling a top customer visit and getting your pitch in order, or meeting with your leadership team to sketch our next quarter’s goals.”

For best results, Finkel recommends avoiding Mondays and Fridays so urgent issues aren’t neglected; informing your team that you shouldn’t be disturbed during this chunk of time; working out of the office; and scheduling these weekly sessions well in advance.

He adds that you should avoid bringing in materials like to-do lists and connected devices that will distract you from the task you’d like to focus on.

“I’ve managed to designate a certain weekday—and, after a little more practice, two weekdays—where I can set aside a chunk of time to focus completely on one thing only,” he says.

“All I do is work on a single project for at least half the day—no emails, no phone calls, no meetings…”

“When you have a Focus Day, every non–Focus Day becomes a ‘Push Day’. Your Push Days are all the other days of the week where you just push your normal projects another step forward.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.