When do you do your best work?
When you ask most people when do you do your best work? it’s NOT typically during the day. It’s early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends, on a plane, on a train, somewhere else. And that just doesn’t seem right.
What is your maximum work span currently?
But it’s very hard to do really good work when you’re constantly being interrupted every few minutes Most of us work with full attention for between 15 and 20 minutes maybe 45 minutes if you’re lucky.
Pick a day and a time
So how and where do companies create the optimum ‘get stuff done environment”. Instead of “dress down Fridays” how about a “no talk” Thursdays so people can actually plan a specific day when they get high intensity work done.
Just be quiet for a day. Could you pick one day a month and just be quiet on that day. When companies actually do this what people find is that, first of all, the world doesn’t end. If people aren’t talking to each other the business doesn’t crash and burn, it really isn’t the disaster that people are afraid of. Actually what happens is, the people get a lot of work done. They feel really good about the day. They leave at a normal time. And they’re looking forward to the next time that that happens.
Especially really creative work, is usually done quietly, it is solitary high intensity sort of work, where people are “in flow” or in a focus mode where they’re able to just focus on the subject in hand and not be distracted and interrupted constantly.
Institute something called “library rules” – when anyone walks into a library anywhere around the world they know how to behave, they feel the hushed environment, they’re quiet. People recognize others are studying or learning or thinking or reading, whatever it is. They’re at work in their own mind doing something and you don’t bother them. You don’t speak up and you don’t raise your voice, you don’t tap people on the shoulder, you are just quiet. One company I heard of gave each employee, in the open plan head office, a baseball cap which if they put it on – the rule was simple – “don’t talk to me I’m working” [they had rules to stop antisocial behaviour, in that, you could not wear it all the time – no more than 3 hours per day!]
And if you want to talk to someone you go pull them into a room, and usually libraries have such rooms or stairwells where you can have full volume conversations.
Don’t be a busy fool
It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 40 or 60, being constantly interrupted is actually extremely expensive mentally. Part of this desire to interrupt is that people sometimes think that being busy is doing work. Jumping between this and that physically rushing, never being still, makes some people feel like they are doing lots of work and are needed. It looks like a lot of work, but it’s not the work that needs to get done.
If this is a new idea to you or your company, the best idea is to start small. Pick one day a month say the first Wednesday of every month, just start to get used to the idea. Because like all new ideas it will feel different and it may to not work perfectly initially. People aren’t aware of the rules or to know how to behave or what to do. Start slowly, give yourself some time to work out rules, behaviour etc get some quick wins then you can develop something bigger maybe increase it to every other Thursday or maybe it’s once a week or twice a week, whatever.
Let me know how you get on or where you do your best work…