Idea for 2020: Reducing Busy-ness

I recently read a quote from Tim Ferriss where he referred to meditation as a core meta-skill along with being a good learner. The idea of meta skills is an interesting one and got me thinking, is a weak meta-skill holding me back?

People who know me might attest, I seem to have a lot of people and things pulling and pinging me at the same time. It’s not that I’m objectively that important, but somehow, and I’m sure that others feel the same, there ends up not being enough time in a day to get back to everyone properly.

So to tackle this, I’ve thought of a few ways that I can improve my time management and communications meta-skills in 2020 to make sure that I am giving each person and task the attention they deserve.

Here are the main tactics I will be trying.

Disable unnecessary alerts on my mobile.

This is an interesting one. Keeping track via ‘Screen Time’ on my iPhone says I’m getting about 199 notifications on my phone per day. Each one probably a strong distraction from the task at hand, so I have disabled anything non-essential.

The results so far have been an uneasy peace – knowing that your phone isn’t buzzing you with distractions every few minutes is a freeing feeling and helps with concentration as hoped.

Enforce a proper meeting schedule

I love booking tools, but they can become less effective at helping you manage back and forth communications and your diary if you keep going beyond the boundaries you set yourself.

I’ve tried to set aside some consistent times that can work for East and West Coast US, EU and Asia/Australian timezones.

The benefits to date have been less stress in knowing that generally at certain times of the day, I will have a meeting, instead of constantly guessing and checking in my calendar to see what’s on.

Answer emails twice a day, 30 minutes at a time

This was an interesting one. I thought checking answering my emails more often would be better for communication and not worse.

What is interesting is that the benefits of making a habit (I’ve scheduled this into my calendar to block out time) to only check it twice a day have been two major things.

One, I find that I’m actually letting less people fall through the cracks. Knowing I only have 30 minutes, I try to tell everyone what’s up and when I’ll get back to them. I’m more considered in what I’m writing.

Two, it actually gives me more headspace. Knowing that you will get to someone at the end of the day and not just ‘when you get a chance’, and clearing out your messaging inboxes at the end of the day is liberating.

What is even better is applying this to messaging apps, Slack, Whatsapp, Skype, where-ever.


While there are few more small tactics I’ve put in place, I think the ones above provide the 80/20 here.

Has anyone else had any luck with reducing low production ‘busyness’? I’m keen to hear what folks have tried. Feel free to comment below.

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