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.


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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You Only Need to Attend Two Meetings a Year

by You Only Need to Attend Two Meetings a Year Holger Reisinger,

Meetings are the killer of modern work life. Fortunately there is a better way. We should only meet twice a year and really get to the bottom of things – and then let the specialists take care of the rest.
You Only Need to Attend Two Meetings a YearSeveral years ago, I visited a Danish company who wanted to eliminate the insane amount of time they wasted for meetings – a pain point that many other organizations experience. Already, they created some strong points of view around better time management and prominently displayed advice through posters on meeting room walls. These were all standard best practices: start on time, prepare an agenda and follow it, stop discussions when they are not leading somewhere, make sure you agree on your conclusions, etc.
Unfortunately, good advice is not always followed and the campaign didn’t work very well..

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Why Urbanization Will Stop

By Why Urbanization Will Stop Holger Reisinger

Urbanization is killing rural villages all over the world. And the new mega-cities are destroying the environment and quality of life. I have an idea how to make this development stop – by creating the perfect community of the future.
Why Urbanization Will Stop

It’s the end of civilization as we know it. And it’s one of the largest challenges for most countries in the world.

Urbanization is changing the demographics and economies all over the world. People move to the major cities, leaving the rural areas empty without any prospects for the future. Village houses are unsellable, and rural communities slowly die out, leaving behind only the oldsters and the outcasts. At the same time, prices for housing are exploding in the cities, forcing people to work longer and longer hours in order to make a decent living.  Continue reading

Do You Trust Your Colleagues? …Honestly

By Do You Trust Your Colleagues? …Honestly Holger Reisinger

Should employees be allowed to work from home? New research shows that most managers say “No.” And that’s a shame. Because all evidence indicates that working from home boosts productivity and employee satisfaction. So, it’s time to take a hard look at the evidence and put an end to the mistrust and prejudice. Starting from the top.

Do You Trust Your Colleagues? …Honestly
“James, I think your cover’s blown!” by Ludovic Bertron

Just the other day, I witnessed an awkward moment at a neighboring table in our cafeteria. Continue reading

We need to talk!

by Holger Reisinger

Thank you for tuning in today – we need to talk!

I say ‘talk’ for a reason, because I very intentionally chose not to write today’s blog post. Instead I want you to literally read my lips.

According to one of my favorite TED talks; Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT talks about modern communication and how we see a shift from conversing with each other to simply connecting. Continue reading

How to Find the Data and the People that Will Help You Succeed

by How to Find the Data and the People that Will Help You Succeed Holger Reisinger

We lose billions of dollars every year and waste hours and hours of valuable time and talent by failing to share information and make data and skills available to our colleagues. This constant reinvention of the wheel will eventually impact your nightly rest, as well as your budget.


“Right now, I am staring into the abyss, Holger!” gasped Lena, a newly appointed COO of a large technology vendor. She was talking to me about the shared drive: the center of her new organization’s heart and history, containing every sales pitch, product manual, and budget ever made. “The other drives all look the same. I wonder how anyone gets anything done – I don’t even know where to start!”

Lena is not alone here. Continue reading

Here’s How to Master the Third Wave of Knowledge Work

by Here’s How to Master the Third Wave of Knowledge Work Holger Reisinger

The knowledge worker has finally been liberated from the mindset of the organizational, industrial production line. Collaboration technology gives us a cheaper, better, and more purposeful way of knowledge sharing and working together. Are you, as a manager, ready to manage the third wave of knowledge?


I have always found how we mentally define work interesting, and how that definition affects the way we manage our employees. Because, honestly, it really should not matter at which desk we carry out our work assignments. Yet, to quite a few managers, this seems to be of great importance. Continue reading

OK! I Give Up: Here Are The Secret Numbers That Will Make You Rich

by OK! I Give Up: Here Are The Secret Numbers That Will Make You Rich Holger Reisinger

Last week, my blog was all about why you should not be so concerned about your UC deployment reaching financial ROI, and why you should focus on what is does for your company culture. This has set my inbox aglow with questions.

OK! I Give Up: Here Are The Secret Numbers That Will Make You Rich

Since last week, I have been on the phone, e-mail, and instant messenger with several readers about last week’s post. I must say that while the interest and the sheer number of comments in my inbox have been stupendous, it has taken up quite a lot of my time to answer the questions. So, I figure that it is time to explain myself, so here goes: this is why you really should deploy UC.

UC: It is great for business, the bottom line, and it will ultimately ensure your company’s productivity, and your employees will love it – in a way that beats Lean projects Continue reading

Why You Must Trust Your Gut and Take a Chance on UC

by Why You Must Trust Your Gut and Take a Chance on UC Holger Reisinger

In my opinion, an extreme focus on financial ROI in UC deployments is only half the truth of measuring your success. It is one thing to get UC for the money you will save and a quick way to reach your financial targets, but that is not why you should acquire it. It is because of the great corporate culture you will receive in return – and as we all know, culture eats strategy for breakfast, Monday through Sunday.

Why You Must Trust Your Gut and Take a Chance on UC

Seriously, you should see the change in corporate culture once UC is properly deployed. The change is outstanding. It gets me every time how much an organization, regardless of size, changes and becomes…“whole.” I have seen it with my own eyes, Continue reading

Why Confucius Would Recommend That You Buy Video Equipment

by Why Confucius Would Recommend That You Buy Video Equipment Holger Reisinger

A man will follow your lead till the end of the world, if you let him share the cause. I cannot remember when or where I heard this, but it has been resounding in my head for the past week or so. I think it strikes an essential cord when it comes to successfully managing and developing true excellence from teams, both dispersed and office-based.

Why Confucius Would Recommend That You Buy Video Equipment

Creating a common vision and purpose, one that your teams can make their own, is of ultimate importance if you want commitment, excellence, and perseverance. While this type of commitment is as rare and precious as diamonds, it can be yours with a little planning.This is why I suggest that you take the advice of the fourth century Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and buy some video equipment. Continue reading