In knowledge work, being productive is all about making the right decision and then taking effective action. Here are nine tricks for improving productivity through better concentration, collaboration.
You’ll never guess one reason U.S. President Barack Obama cites for why he’s so productive 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.
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.
Scientists have long understood the benefits of a quick nap, such as greater productivity, better decision making and improved overall health. But catching some Zzzzs while on the job? Meet a pioneering company that’s working to change our attitudes about stealing a few winks in the workplace.
It wasn’t long ago that napping at work was a great way to get fired.
But if a U.S. company has its way, getting a few minutes of shut-eye on the job may just make you a better employee.
Allow me to introduce MetroNaps, perhaps the most courageous company in the world. That’s because MetroNaps is determined to eliminate one of the biggest taboos in the workplace: dozing on the job. Continue reading →
With all the great communication and collaboration tools in today’s workplace, you’d think we could share knowledge and information more efficiently. Instead, our day is punctuated by untimely interruptions and requests for information from coworkers. It’s time to take our time back.
“Got a minute?”
Those may be the three most frightening words in the workplace today.
If you tune into your biological clock, you can do ten hours of work in half the time and stop stress at the same time. All it takes is a piece of paper and a little understanding from your co-workers and your boss. Have you ever wondered why some of your co-workers manage to be more productive than the rest of the bunch? You know, those “annoying” elite workers that meet all their deadlines without ever working late? I must admit that it puzzled me for quite some time until recently when I discovered the hidden secret of highly productive people. All it takes is to be fully in tune with your internal biological clock. And here’s the good news: we can all learn how.
You lose more than 66 percent of your productivity through accidental noise in the office. That corresponds to more than half your day, in which you were meant to be working, disappearing into thin air. It does not have to be that way. Small changes in the office have major impact on your productivity, sanity, and your bottom line.
I recently learned a new word: schizophonia. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I. But let me explain: according to Julian Treasure, who works with how sounds affects us, schizophonia is a state of confusion experienced when what you hear and see does not match for a longer period of time Continue reading →
by Holger Reisinger, Accidental noise, gigantic rooms, and humming machinery all stand between you and productivity. Getting the office plan right is your key to a dynamic and productive workplace, which is fit for human habitation.
“I am sure you can hear the drop of a coin on the concrete floor at least 25 feet from where it landed.” I could hear the despair in his voice. My friend Michael’s company just got new offices – beautiful, but very spacious, new offices – and now he is having a difficult time getting the soundproofing and the decoration of his very large industrial open plan office to work. I have just been on the phone with him, offering to go with him to IKEA for some basic supplies, and help with ideas to mask the sound and lines of sight in his new space, before his 75 employees make the move. Continue reading →
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!
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
The zone is where it is at. That is where the magic happens, where you are the most productive and… yes! Happy. Getting there on demand is hard, but with a little planning, the zone may not be out of reach.
The Hungarian psychology professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wrote of the intersection between productivity, creativity, and pure happiness, the place where workers and athletes alike flock to produce impressive results. Continue reading →
Harvard Business Review has calculated the positive effects of moving to new buildings designed for high performance. The numbers are staggering and highly convincing. But I have an even better idea.
I’ve been an avid reader of Harvard Business Review for years. There, you will find inspiring articles about modern business life written by the most prominent business leaders and professors in the world. However, it’s not beautiful pictures or inspiring infographics that are pulling me in. To be honest, HBR is as visually appealing as a nuclear power plant. In HBR, just like the power plant, the power certainly lies within.
That’s why I didn’t react at first, when I saw images of some exceptionally hideous office cubicles on the Harvard Business Review’s website the other day. But once I started reading the captions, the article certainly got my attention.