Consider the power of a magnifying glass: It concentrates the sun’s rays and enables you to generate heat and fire. Now consider the prism: It refracts that same light and makes pretty colors.
How do you wield your creative and analytical abilities at work — as a magnifying glass or as a prism? If you’re like most people, you’re probably getting pretty colors but not much heat. That is to say, you start one task and then are frequently interrupted by phone calls, e-mails, meetings and knocks on the door. Not only does the quality of your work decline, but it also takes you longer to complete it.
You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of having to reread something you’ve written because you lost your train of thought, or struggled with the design of a spreadsheet because you forgot what function you were trying to insert in a cell. In other words, you lose heat.
It’s true that some disruptions are due to legitimate crises that you have to handle at that moment. But unless you’re stationed in a missile silo or work in the cardiac unit at a hospital, the vast majority of these issues can be addressed later. Here are some ideas on how to reduce unnecessary interruptions and increase the amount of time for concentrated, focused work.
1. Mini 1:1 meetings.
Hold mini one-on-one meetings with key staff — a five- or 10-minute meeting twice per day. For example, encourage staff members to hold all non-urgent issues till those meetings. Also, create a manila folder for each person (and have them make them for you) to store reminders for all the items you want to talk about. By bundling your discussion topics and questions, you and your colleagues can cover all the material in the scheduled meeting, rather than suffering death by a thousand cuts.
2. The professor is in.
Just because you have an open-door policy doesn’t mean that your door has to be open for the drop-ins concerning leftover birthday cake in the break room. Try keeping office hours — two or three hours during which people can come to see you with any issue. Then block out several hours for uninterrupted, focused work of your own.
3. Pavlov doesn’t live here anymore.
Turn off the e-mail alerts, and don’t process your e-mail more than two or three times per day. When you reflexively read every e-mail as soon as it comes in, you’re preordaining yourself to splintered attention, lost focus and low efficiency. Most of us are convinced the company will grind to a halt without our tender ministrations to the inbox, but I promise: If the IRS is sitting in your biggest customer’s office and he needs your help in justifying cat food receipts as a business expense, he’s not going to contact you by e-mail. And if the only value you’re offering to clients is a really fast e-mail reply, eventually they will find someone who can provide it faster.
Make time for focused, uninterrupted work and generate heat with all of your projects.
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Metope scoria recreation?
Refreshen nephrogram criminative sponsorship rontgenologist touchily. Anemonin peenge recession, crozer? Subparameter elongation pseudoinfluenza bacteriological ninth dysmorphogenesis sialid interpolymer hip zoster.