In today's fast-paced, constantly connected world, it's easy to get sucked into a never-ending cycle of meetings, emails, and distractions. For creative professionals, this can be particularly detrimental to productivity and flow. That's why the concept of "Untouchable Days" is becoming increasingly popular.
Today we will explore the benefits of scheduling "untouchable days", how to make them work for you, and what to do when unexpected opportunities or obligations arise.
What are Untouchable Days?
Untouchable Days are days set aside for deep, uninterrupted work. They are sacred, untouchable blocks of time where nothing can interrupt you – no texts, no emails, no phone calls, and absolutely no meetings. The idea is to create a protected space for creative work, free from distractions and interruptions.
The benefits of untouchable days include:
Increased Productivity: By dedicating a full day to uninterrupted work, you can achieve a state of flow, which is essential for high-quality creative output. Research shows that working in uninterrupted 90-120 minute increments, followed by short breaks, can increase productivity and improve work-life balance.
Improved Focus: Untouchable Days help you maintain focus on your most important tasks. Interruptions can derail your train of thought, causing you to lose valuable time and mental energy. By eliminating distractions, you can sustain your focus and work at your best.
Better Work-Life Balance: Scheduling Untouchable Days allows you to prioritize your personal and professional life. By dedicating one day a week to deep work, you can avoid the stress and burnout that come with constantly juggling tasks and responsibilities.
Enhanced Creativity: Untouchable Days provide the space and time to explore new ideas and approaches. Without the pressure of meetings and deadlines, you can let your mind wander, experiment, and innovate, leading to better work and personal growth.
Making Untouchable Days Work for You
Schedule Them in Advance: To make Untouchable Days effective, schedule them in advance and treat them as non-negotiable. Mark them on your calendar like you would any other important appointment or commitment.
Communicate with Your Team and Clients: Let your team and clients know that you have Untouchable Days and that you're unavailable during those times. Set clear expectations and establish a system for emergencies.
Be Flexible: While Untouchable Days are meant to be sacrosanct, unexpected opportunities or obligations may arise. Don't be too rigid – if something truly important comes up, consider moving your Untouchable Day to another day that week. However, avoid moving it to a different week altogether, as this can disrupt your creative flow and undermine the benefits of the Untouchable Day.
Make the Most of Your Untouchable Day: Use your Untouchable Day wisely. Prepare for it by setting clear goals, eliminating distractions, and creating an environment conducive to focus. Take breaks, practice self-care, and refuel to maintain your energy and productivity.
How to Prepare for an Untouchable Day and Set Clear Goals
Preparing for an Untouchable Day requires careful planning and deliberate goal-setting. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Untouchable Day:
Prepare a plan of action: Before your Untouchable Day, take some time to reflect on your goals and priorities. Identify the most important tasks that require your undivided attention, and create a plan of action for tackling them. Be specific about what you want to achieve and how you'll go about it.
Eliminate distractions: Make sure your workspace is conducive to focus and creativity. Turn off notifications, log out of social media, and eliminate any other distractions that might interrupt your flow. Consider using tools like website blockers or apps that help you stay focused.
Set realistic goals: Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. Don't overload yourself with too many tasks, as this can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Prioritize your most important tasks and focus on delivering quality work rather than quantity.
Take breaks: Remember to take breaks throughout the day to recharge and refuel. Schedule breaks into your plan of action, and use them to do something that energizes you, like going for a walk, practicing yoga, or reading a book.
Practice self-care: Untouchable Days can be intense, so make sure you're taking care of yourself. Stay hydrated, eat nutritious food, and get enough sleep. Avoid overworking yourself, and take time to relax and unwind when your work is done.
By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to a productive and fulfilling Untouchable Day. Remember, the key is to be deliberate with your time and focus on delivering high-quality work.
Untouchable days are a powerful tool for creative professionals looking to enhance their productivity, focus, and work-life balance. By dedicating one day a week to uninterrupted work, you can achieve a state of flow, improve your creativity, and maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. Remember to schedule them in advance, communicate with your team and clients, be flexible, and make the most of your Untouchable Day. Embrace the concept of Untouchable Days and watch your creative output soar!
Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.