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Is it Time for a Work Detox?

Have you noticed how most of your day goes to stuff that is not related to what is really important?

I am not even talking about the obvious things like dealing with spam, hanging out in Twitter, and people hanging on the telephone too long. There are lots of things that demand our time and either through procrastination or weakness we just let them.

Right now I am under pressure from various directions. We are moving to Canada, I have a couple of big projects kicking off, while all my other stuff needs to be taken care of.

Something is going to slide because next week the contents of our UK house are packed up and shipped overseas, in a couple of weeks I will be at Blogworld, and then a few days later we move. It is not ideal but some balls will be dropped, it is inevitable.

Decide, Dump, Delay, Delegate, Dodge and Do

Take a good look at what your day consists of and prioritize.

  1. Vital.
  2. Non-essential but significant value.
  3. Nice to have.
  4. No value.
  5. WTH is this doing here??

80% of your day will not even meet the criteria for #3 if you are anything like me.

Do the important stuff, drop anything that doesn’t make sense.

  • Decide what you are going to do, when and in what order.
  • Dump anything that makes no sense to your business or day.
  • Delay stuff that doesn’t need to be done today.
  • Delegate what you can (without creating extra work explaining one-off things).
  • Dodge people who are just crying because they want attention rather than having actual urgent demands.
  • Do what is top of your list, and continue down your priorities.

You > them

Don’t fall into the trap of putting other people’s priorities as yours. We are talking about the value to you here.

There will be things that you have committed to that ought to be moved up the schedule, but you will find there are just as many things that are more “loud” than important and it is easy to confuse the two. Like that free guest post that you promised and get reminded about 3x a day for 10 days versus the paid client work from the person who never puts any demands on you but would like delivery “as soon as you can manage”.

It is often the case that people who have no intention to ever compensate you will be far more demanding than the people who value your time enough to pay. Just because someone says something is urgent to them does not mean it is important to you, especially when they don’t pay your bills.

Their business, their needs, their failure to plan does not mean anything they want from you becomes your top priority.

Bottom Line

Don’t blunder about like a zombie. As you shuffle through your day all that “stuff” might look like work or a productive activity, but it is just stuff.

It’s your day, work through it consciously and know what you are meant to achieve.

I wrote this for me as much as I did for you. You are welcome πŸ™‚

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  1. Wow, except for the fact that I am moving from an island back to the midwest, this sounds exactly like me! Thanks for creating a great focal point, helps to put things in perspective πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for writing this Chris. It’s a nice variation on the “Urgent and Important”, “Urgent but Not Important”, and “Not Urgent and Not Important” options that are often used with prioritisation.

    Between committing to SMART goals and filtering priorities through a filter like yours, it’s difficult to see how you can’t make progress.

    Of course, that’s assuming one takes action πŸ™‚

  3. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the top priority; I don’t think holidays should fall below 2.

  4. One tip I always give re time management is – anything you can do in 2-5 minutes do it now – one after the other, that way you get loads of things done in 1 hour!

    Try it, it works!

  5. Hi Chris,
    totally agree with you here and I manage to get rid of about 80% of what I *think* is important using a similar method – it’s such a release to know you just don’t have to do all that stuff!
    All the best for the move btw…

  6. Yesterday I dumped many Twitter followers b/c they were taking up a lot of space. Nothing against them;we were not a good fit.

    I was able to check out some nice blog posts and news articles in no time.

    Today I’ll only do what is essential to my biz.

    Good luck with the move to Canada–may all your shipped contents arrive safe and soundly πŸ™‚

  7. This is why I like going to Burning Man.

    It’s a full escape from all things connected, into a world where connection, face to face, is the only thing that matters.

    When it’s time to leave for the playa, what didn’t get done, doesn’t get done. Somehow, it never ends up mattering.

    And I don’t miss being “connected” at all.

    Blog World… gonna pass on that one. Silicon Valley Code Camp is that weekend, and a Decompression event, and it’s extra special Double 10 day 10/10/10, so I may just spend the day partying around Chinatown. There will be more BWE, there won’t be another 10/10/10 for a hundred years. (I lived in Taiwan for a while.)

  8. “It is often the case that people who have no intention to ever compensate you will be far more demanding than the people who value your time enough to pay.”

    That feels very, very familiar. One of my inlaws is the noisiest and most demanding person I know when she wants stuff done to her website and yet I’m never paid a penny because she’s family.

    I’m writing this list and sticking it on my desk where I can see it.

    Thanks Chris!

  9. This is great stuff, Chris! But what if it’s pretty much all important?

    I’ve already eliminated most stuff at level 3 & below. (Love the levels btw.) Other than spending too much time reading blog posts (hi) and looking for antiques on eBay, I’m pretty free from silly faux obligations and other people’s “stuff.”

    But I still feel like I need something called a “detox.” Guess that’s just burnout!

  10. Hi Chris:
    Exactly! In fact, I have shifted my business to helping people with this exact thing. There is just so much information out there to keep up with and so much paperwork to do that people are getting swamped. Its time to remember the basics and you’ve hit them here so well. Great read!

    Welcome to Canada (in advance)! I hope you love it here as much as I do.

    • Thanks, I hope I will. Once my daughter has made some friends, I find a good curry and get through one of the winters I think we will settle in πŸ™‚

  11. I try to make a daily checklist using

    I organize this by priority (A,B,C) and put in a padded time estimate (I multiply by 1.5x or 2x how long I think it will take).

    Just by making this list it forces me to prioritize and I get so much more high value work complete.

    The problem is I don’t do this daily. So I am working on that …

  12. Funny, but this is very true to me. I think I need to be reviewing my time and need to enforce discipline on myself.

    Thanks a lot for this.

    I wish I can implement this lesson very soon…

  13. I get plenty of those “stuff” days where you spend time on things that you probably shouldn’t – after all this falls in line with your 80/20 rule – 20% of results are from 80% of your time.

    Trouble is anything that involves a computer makes it so easy to get distracted

    Good luck on the Canada move


  14. Uhmmm, you definitely wrote this post for me!

  15. Thanks! I definitely needed that just now!

  16. Dump is a hard word, sometimes you feel you have to do today and do it now. I want to believe that I manage my time well but things can sometimes get out hand.

    Thanks for putting some perspective on this Chris. All the best with the move to Canada.

  17. I think this could just as easily be called a “distraction detox”! Yes, all good points and reminders, Chris. It’s so true.

    As for the LOUD winning out over the important, that’s definitely something we all need to keep in mind. I love the six “d”s and will detox accordingly ;->

    Amber Avines

  18. I find the “Delegate” part the hardest to do, as I’m one of those self-reliant types. As a result, I have vital things sitting on my desk that aren’t hard, just not my favourite tasks – like book keeping. 10-15 minutes a week would keep it up to date, but I leave it until year end and it still sits there.

    So, I know I should delegate that task. But, how do you find someone you trust with your financials?

    • I still do a great deal of things that really I should outsource.

      As an example, this week I did around 20-30 hours of … HTML editing. Yeah. I know.

      Baby steps πŸ™‚

  19. John Haydon says:


    I’ve adopted what Leo recommends in the Power Of Less:

    I write down “decide” and then cross off everything except the top three critical items. Then I focus for 25 minutes at a time getti g these items done. When I want to screw off or decompress, I look at what I’ve crossed off.

    Great stuff here!


  20. This post really struck home for me. Much as I would like to convince myself that I’m super efficient and focused, I’m often not.

    Perhaps mostly not. πŸ™

    That’s the one “D” you forgot to mention: Delusion. πŸ™‚

    You draw the issue into sharp focus and provide a possible way out – for which, thank you.


  21. How very true!

    I had a boss that used to say to clien’ts/employees/etc: “a delay on your part does NOT an emergency on mine make”. There are days I remind myself of this constantly. There have also been clients I’ve had to relay this to in no uncertain terms, and there have been one or two who I’ve parted ways with because of it. I have to control my day because that’s all I can really control, your day is up to you πŸ™‚

    I also use what I call my “sticky” method. I write down the three things that MUST be done today on a bright lime green or lemon yellow sticky and stick it on the upper right hand corner of my monitor where I can’t lose it. I can’t go home until those three things are finished. At the end of the week I have a little pile of stickies so I have proof I did get something done this week, even if it doesn’t feel like it!

    Thanks for the great post!

  22. Carole Jane Treggett says:

    Hi Chris,
    Wow, glad I stumbled upon this blog post. I’ve been spinning my wheels a lot over the past few weeks. I think I’m suffering from information overload(new creative entrepreneur here)and a bit of ‘doe-in-headlight’ syndrome, but I think the real problem I’m not getting my website/blog launched as fast as I wanna is I’m getting majorly distracted by ‘stuff’.

    Thanks for the splash of cold water on my business face. Needed that.

    By the by, welcome to Canada, eh? Buy a warm toque πŸ™‚