A copywriter tries to become more effective

As a writer, I am at the mercy of constant interruptions.
Messaging systems like Slack, project management tools such as Asana and Wrike, along with email and Skype are just a few of the ways that clients and colleagues make me aware of changes, new projects and updates.
It was my belief that being available and reactive was critical to our service offering. A week ago, an effectiveness expert tasked with assisting us in scaling, challenged my thinking. She said that not only was my approach detrimental to my long-term mental health – it was also a poor way to engage with clients. She asked me to try something, and so for one week, instead of reacting to circumstances as they came up, I have been doing one thing at a time.
Firstly, I was instructed to turn off instant messaging, email, Skype and anything else that could potentially interrupt my focus. It took every ounce of my self-control to resist checking these platforms, for fear of missing out on something important.
Next, I was to hold myself accountable to one task. I installed an app called Focus Booster on my Mac. It’s a simple timer which reminds me of the task I’m doing and using the Pomodoro technique, it times 25-minute intervals and then 5-minute breaks, increasing my awareness of time.
The first day was a nightmare as I learnt how reactive I really was, and how many times I got sucked into a Wikipedia vortex, researching things that were interesting, but really didn’t need to be focused on right now.
I was also shocked at how often I picked up my phone, checking for updates, and how much I missed my instant messaging distractions. While this awareness was critical, day one was a harsh lesson in how often I get distracted and distract myself. Every time the 25 minute time went off, I was forced to look at the results achieved over that time period, and often, the outcomes were less than inspiring.
On day 2, I caught myself opening my email and instant messaging tools before anything else first thing in the morning. Old habits are hard to break, but at least I noticed.
By the end of day 3, I felt a renewed sense of calm. My output had increased exponentially, and I felt good about the quality of my work.
On day 4, the world collapsed. Two client issues that needed to be addressed immediately forced me out of my convenient focus zone and into crisis mode. Of course, neither of these issues were the end of the world – but it was an important reminder as to the importance of balancing focus and availability.
On day 5, things returned to normal and so did a few bad habits. I would log into my email too often before I even realised I was doing it.
To overcome this, I downloaded a Chrome extension which blocks certain sites and gives me a reminder that I’m not supposed to be on them.
In all, this experience was an excellent demonstration of the power of focus. I’ve certainly changed the way that I react to circumstances, and I think the outcome is a renewed sense of control. While there are always going to be distractions, through setting perfect focus as a preferable outcome, and working backwards from there – and also forgiving myself when it doesn’t go perfectly – I’ve seen a marked improvement in quality, quantity, and my attitude.