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Sacred Time

We live in the interruption age of the interruption society. We are continually and relentlessly interrupted. These interruptions break our concentration. We lose our focus, and it takes us much longer to perform a poorer quality outcome.

While you are reading this, it’s more than likely that you have your email open. You might also be logged into a number of social media sites and, undoubtedly you have your smart phone on next to you. If you are at work, your phone will ring or someone will walk into your office and put a to-do on your list. It is nearly impossible for you to make it through this post without an interruption.

This is no way to work. It’s no way to live. Some things are worth doing without interruption. You need sacred time.

My sacred time

Sacred time is time that you set aside to give something your full attention and your full focus. You set this time aside, and you eliminate all distractions. No background noise, no interruptions. You close the door, you close the browser windows, and you close out anything outside of what you have chosen to give yourself over to.

For me, my sacred time is 5:30 AM every morning (lately, it’s been 5:00 AM). No one wants your attention at 5:30 in the morning. Writing is important to me, and so I block off an hour an half each day to write.

I also have some meetings that require my full attention. I always close my email and, when I don’t have to take notes, I shut the laptop lid. This allows me to give the people I am speaking with my undivided attention, and it allows me to listen (really listen).

It is amazing how much work you can do when you aren’t interrupted. It’s even more amazing how much the quality of your work improves when you aren’t interrupted. A single uninterrupted hour weighs a lot more than an hour of interruptions and scattered attention.

How to have sacred time

First you have to train yourself to have sacred time. You have to train yourself to give up your addiction to interruptions. Know that when you plug back into the world, your email will be waiting for you. So will your Twitter stream, and so will your status updates.

So will the long line of people that clamor for your attention, along with the people who have been desperate to make some commitment on your behalf. You also have to train others that there are times when you have committed to doing something important enough to you to give it the full power of your focus. You have to ask them to leave you alone until your uninterrupted time is complete. At first, you will be interrupted. But the more you ask (and hang signs on your door, and turn on your Do Not Disturb, and turn off your email), the more you will find that people comply.

Plan your sacred time, and give yourself over to something during the time, be it work (like prospecting), personal development (like reading), a relationship (pick a few important relationships), or whatever you might like to accomplish. You will find that you get more done towards your goals, the quality is better, and your productivity will skyrocket. You’ll also be much happier.


Do you have sacred time, time that you set aside without interruptions?

How many times were you interrupted while reading this post?

What should you be setting time aside to do that would be better if it had your full attention?

Who would you need to work with to allow you to have sacred time?

What distractions would you have to eliminate?

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  • Bruce Sallan

    My “Sacred Time” is when I’m with my boys and when I’m with my skis. Not being funny; quite serious. You are SO RIGHT that you have to block this time. Turn off the phones and other devices. That is a family rule at dinner – no phones, no tv – just each other. We are way too connected. 

    You absolutely described me in the opening of this blog as I’m doing several things at once and my “smart” phone is sitting beside me!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Bruce: You are everywhere, all the time. The kid thing is spot on, too! Not so sure about the skis; for me it is the bicycle. 

  • Blake Cavignac

    For me “Sacred Time” is the most effective way for growth.  Like you, I get this time early in the morning and during afternoon hikes in the mountains.

    You mentioned that one has to train themselves for “Sacred Time”.  I agree, it requires great discipline and follow through.  Although distractions take away from our effectiveness, I often find it is easier to let these distractions in as opposed to shutting them off.  I have not been able to figure out why this is and was hoping that you might have some insight on this matter.

    Bruce – “Sacred Time” doesn’t get much better when you are skiing with your family and friends!  Although you are around others and there are many distractions, I have found it to be one of the most relaxing yet productive environments for developing new ideas.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Blake. I block some and quarantine others by moving them straight into my task management system (Omnifocus), so I know what you mean. Acknowledged, and move on to something more important. 

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