5 tips to stay “in the zone” at work


Today, I had a confetti day: this means that I had to spend the night in my kitchen, doing the things I was supposed to do during my workday – meaning earlier today. Confetti days are days where you are constantly interrupted with minor or major issues which were not on your original to-do list, making it impossible for you to complete even the smallest of task. It rips your day into little pieces and ensures that your program at close of business is roughly the same as it was at the start of the day. We all have those days, and it seems to be my turn today.

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Confetti days are part of the modern workplace. According to a study carried out at the University of California, office workers in the study were, at one point or another, interrupted roughly every ten minutes by colleagues, their smart phone, or e-mails. While not every distraction may throw you off course, there is a great deal of distraction to take into account, and some of it is bound to pull you away from what you were doing. Once thrown off track, it can take as much as 23 minutes for you to return to the original task, i.e., if you even succeed in getting back to the original task.

According to the study, the average interruption lasts approximately five minutes. Whether or not it takes you 23 minutes or more to get back to what you were doing, it adds up to many hours lost. It is frustrating for the individual interrupted, but also costs the business a considerable amount of money and lost opportunities. I think we can do better than that.

1. Tell people in your physical space

Simply telling people in your physical space that you are busy or need to concentrate will help some. Only rarely will people intentionally interrupt you if you have told them you are under pressure to perform. Actually, your co-workers will go a long way to protect you from interruptions and shield you from outsiders by taking care of questions and issues themselves.

2. Set presence indicator on “busy”

This is a no-brainer, but few of us do it. On your UC client: Lync, Jabber, etc., you can place a “don’t disturb” or “busy” tag to your status indicator. This means that your colleagues who are about to send you a message are warned not to. Since no one wants to be intentionally rude, they will often wait or send you an e-mail if it is urgent.

3. Get some music going

This one’s my personal favorite. I’ve written before about how the right music can really help you focus. On top of that, it masks some of the office noise around you.
This works even better when combined with a noise-cancelling headset like the Jabra Evolve. I promise I’m not saying this just because Jabra pays my bills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the need to slap on my trusty Jabra Evolve 80 and drown out the noise with some sweet Spotify tracks.

In fact, I wrote most of this very post while soothing tunes from Morcheeba washed gently over my ears. True story.

4. Don’t pick up the phone

I actually got this tip from my IT guy, who handles much of his work on the go. He says that 90% of questions solve themselves if the person asking the question is forced to leave a message. Thirty percent of all interruptions are questions from co-workers – at least some of them should be able to wait an hour or two. While this may not be the case for you or me, not feeling like you have to take every call is a good strategy when you have to get things done without interruptions.

5. Go somewhere else

Not being there to get interrupted is also effective. Finding a conference room or working at home, if possible, will save you from much distraction. This, however, is not always possible, as you sometimes need your workstation or just the feel of your desk to make you productive.

Unfortunately, confetti days are here to stay – they are a fact of the modern workplace. You can avoid much distraction by making use of some simple tips and tricks. However, if all else fails, you need to do what I will be doing in a minute: wait for the house to get quiet and then work from the kitchen counter.

 

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The 28-Hour Hamster Wheel


By The 28-Hour Hamster Wheel Holger Reisinger

Knowledge workers spend 28 hours a week answering e-mails or looking for information. But research shows that there are better and faster ways of generating your business results. It’s time to dismantle the hamster wheel, stop hiding behind our screens, and start having meaningful conversations instead. 

The 28-Hour Hamster Wheel

My company, just like most others, spends a great deal of time on e-mails. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the average knowledge worker spends a whopping 28 hours e-mailing, requesting and sending information back and forth. I personally receive well over 200 e-mails a day and often have to spend my evenings answering them all, in order to be able to get my other work done when I’m back in the office.I guess that the lyrics of traditional boy/girl break-up love songs seldom have much to offer in solving today’s management challenges. But just the other day, Cliff Richard’s old hit “We don’t talk anymore” was playing on my car radio, and it got me thinking.

Twenty-eight solid hours! Continue reading

3 steps to finding out if you’re ready for Unified Communications

If your organization is starting a major Unified Communications project, you’re probably thinking about things like assessing LAN and WAN capacity, switches and routers, and all kinds of speeds and feeds. While it’s certainly a good idea to go through such an exercise, it’s wise to take some measured, far less technical steps beforehand.

3 steps to finding out if youre ready for Unified Communications

That’s the advice of Richard English, director of strategic consulting for Avaya Professional Services. Before worrying about the technical details, organizations should understand why they’re getting into UC in the first place – and how different employees will use the technology.

We reached out to Richard and Avaya because they’re experts in simplifying UC projects and increasing user adoption. In fact, they have received accolades for their methodology. They implemented this approach about 2 years ago and have since seen a 25 percent rise in user adoption, English says. Continue reading

DECT vs. Bluetooth: How to choose the right wireless headset

As you hunt for wireless headsets, you’ll likely come across the so-called “DECT standard.” You may find yourself wondering just what DECT is and how it differs from Bluetooth. We hope this post puts the matter to rest.

DECT vs. Bluetooth

DECT stands for “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications,” although it’s also known as “Digital European Cordless Telecommunications” – which makes sense, because it’s a standard that originated in Europe.

It is widely used in wireless phone systems to connect the cordless phone to a base station. DECT has many other applications, ranging from baby monitors to industrial remote controls. But in this post, we’ll focus on the phone systems.

DECT is used for both consumer and corporate phones. In the latter case, it can be used with a PBX (private branch exchange) and a wireless LAN to let users move around the office without losing their calls.

The standard is widely used in most countries. It works near the 1.9 GHz frequency band, where it does not interfere with other wireless technologies, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Continue reading

Why read it, if you can watch it?

by Why read it, if you can watch it? Louise Harder Fischer

In three weeks, my 15-year-old daughter is handing in her 9th grade school project. The assignment is; “Has the world gone crazy?” She has chosen the title of her project to be; “Digitalization of childhood”. She is handing in a video, NOT a written report!

Why read it, if you can watch it?

As the year draws to a close, we can look back and note that the past 9 months, we have written a great deal here on the blog. Relevant content on how knowledge workers of all kinds can become super productive and happy agents at work and in their personal life by using the available and soon-to-come technology properly and thoughtfully. However, the next generation will, for the most part, not read a blog like this one – they will prefer a video – or maybe a screen shot, a text of no more than 250 words, or group chat on an open platform. Since you might spend the holidays with your teenager, I have chosen three videos you can watch together!

“The dancing guy” is basically three minute footage from a TED-talk about leadership, and on how an adoption of new behavior takes place. Watch it and follow! Link

A 2:30 minutes animation on how one e-mail becomes 64 e-mails will hopefully start a conversation with your teenager about e-mails, since she is not using it herself. Watch it and explain! Link

The secret about motivation and why autonomy, mastery, and purpose are so important in knowledge work. Daniel Pink’s talk is animated and lasts ten minutes. Link

Happy holidays ….Arrrghhhh 269

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Are Your Employees Really Using UC?

 
by Pete Fox, President of Jabra North America
 
Getting your UC to work is one thing; making it the key tool for your employees is quite another. Making the cultural change happen is not a one-man job – you will need help!
Are Your Employees Really Using UC?

 

UC is great! I use it every day. I think it makes sense in a modern organization to cut costs on telephony, manage disbursed teams, and get all the benefits that the software offers. At Jabra, we could literally not do without it. Here in North America, we’ve built our people strategy around the existence of UC, by hiring the right person for the role, considering geography as a secondary criteria.  We believe that the war on talent requires employers to be flexible about work location.

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