Have you ever gotten up early in the morning to work on a big project and noticed how much work you can get done without the constant distractions that seem to crop up during the day? Do you ever wonder why that is? It’s because most companies don’t protect their most costly expense: their employee’s time and attention. If you look at your total expense at your company, you’ll likely see that human resources is the largest. Your people are your best asset as well, so it’s vital that you protect them.
Think back to the last time you had one of those days where you felt like you accomplished everything you set out to do. What was that day like? Was it full of meetings and constant pings from your chat tools? Probably not. What the day likely looked like was an open calendar and limited distractions.
When you are constantly jumping from meetings to a task to another ping from a teammate, you aren’t getting into the “groove” of your work. You know that feeling – when you’re locked in, focused, and firing on all cylinders with brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, and task completing.
Are Your Meetings Working?
Video meetings and in-person meetings are beneficial at times, but the overuse of them is a clear waste of employee time. One trend we’ve noticed with video meetings is inviting considerably more people than you would for an in-person meeting. Some of our customers have told us they routinely have meetings on video with 30+ people. Who is that beneficial for? Would you hold an in-person meeting with 30+ people?
This isn’t a new problem, though. Back in 2007, Merlin Mann wrote an article about the idea of meeting tokens. The idea behind it is that each employee gets a certain amount of tokens per month, and to invite someone to a meeting, you must use a meeting token. As we mentioned in the beginning, employee time relates to real dollars and cents, so holding meetings only when absolutely necessary saves time. Should you put this into place in your organization? Logistically, it would be difficult to implement in a remote environment, but consideration should be given to how easy it is to schedule meetings with people. Before scheduling meetings, you should ask:
Am I calling this meeting instead of writing a carefully worded email?
Will the result of this meeting be worth the cost of having it?
Who are the essential people that I need to invite?
What materials should they review before the meeting?
What is my expected outcome?
Communication is Good, but Save Your Chats up
Back in 2020, there was a viral tweet about there being two types of texters.
The notion that this tweet conveys extends to your team chat tools as well. Some people will send you a message at every thought they have. If it takes someone an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task, you need to ask yourself: is 23 minutes and 15 seconds worth this interruption? Would I maybe save this thought and combine it with other ideas later in the day?
If you are in the office, you don’t interrupt someone with every idea or thought you have, right? No, you’d think to yourself, I’ll make a note and chat with them about this if I see them in the breakroom.
What’s the Solution to Getting More Done During the Day?
Changing your company culture isn’t easy and sometimes isn’t possible. As frank as it might sound, you have to take back control of your focus. When you need to focus, close apps that can distract you. If you need to let people know that you’re going offline for a few weeks, let them know how to reach you in an emergency (phone call). If you’re getting continual requests for meetings, start blocking off time on your calendar for focus time.
If you use an app like Spike to manage your email and calendar, you can block off your day to get some focused work done, snooze your chatty email threads, and take back your time. Getting the right tools to develop a path to focused work is one part of the battle, and putting yourself in a position not to be distracted is another. So make 2022 the year you get more done with fewer interruptions.
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