As fast-paced and technology driven as the modern workplace might be, distractions and interruptions still manage to keep us still, slowing down our productivity. “Friendly” notifications that pop up everywhere and at any time, teammates who constantly ask for help or feedback, the continuous battle for balance between being able to do our job and working together with the team for a common purpose — known as teamwork — all that puts enormous pressure on our work and focus.
There are moments when all we want is a little time for ourselves to get the work done. It is difficult, but not impossible. And it’s only up to us to make it happen 🙂
Three not-so-easy steps
There is a wise Chinese proverb:
Cheap things are not good, good things are not cheap.
At work, this would translate into:
You cannot focus unless you are calm. You cannot calm down unless you focus your mind to silence that inner tumult.
You cannot have one (calm) without the other (focus) and vice versa. And what’s more, the quality of your work and ultimately getting things done depend on reaching both of these states. The good news is that there are things you can do to escape this vicious circle. Here are three of them.
#1 Ask yourself why you’re doing it
It’s the first thing you should do. Find out the reason(s) that make you do whatever you do.
- Because you have to.
- Because you want to.
- Because you cannot live without it.
- Because your job depends on it.
- Because your life depends on it.
- Because it makes you happy.
This way, you’ll find it easier to train your mind on how important it is to achieve whatever you’re up to. Of course, it’s easier with things that matter a lot, the game changers. But it can work with the usual, repetitive tasks as well. You don’t need to change the world every day, you simply need to get better at your own pace 🙂 According to the philosophy of marginal gains, constant improvement, however small, can lead to spectacular progress in time.
You might find some tasks an absolute bore, but every tiny thing that you do in order to achieve your higher purpose will walk you towards that higher purpose.
For salespeople, sending regular follow-ups to their cold leads every now and then might be annoying. Yet, this might just be the path to warming them up again into becoming paying customers. Testing your own code before submitting a change might be time-consuming and in some cases unpleasant, but it can save a lot of precious resources later in the process, including your own work time that otherwise would get wasted on bug replication and fixing. Teachers might feel that correcting the same mistakes students make over and over again is a waste of time. However, after many such corrections, students eventually learn the lesson and teachers feel accomplished.
And examples could go on indefinitely.
#2 Find balance between “teamwork” & “your work”
There is an extremely thin line between teamwork and too much teamwork. Some people might find this unacceptable — in a century where working together is the way and taking one for the team is highly acclaimed, why would you be so self-centered and want to work by yourself?!
Simply because there are parts of everybody’s job that can only be done this way. And for that, you need to focus only on the task at hand.
Most of us like to lend a helping hand every now and then — because some of us are truly altruistic or simply vain 🙂 while others just don’t know how to say no! or value more what other people think about them than their own job.
In any case, it’s important to learn where to draw the line, to find a balance and do your job. Here’s more on how to help your teammates without sabotaging your own work.
#3 Eliminate interruptions
This is an objective in itself — stop notifications and disruptions from taking over your life. You should be the one who controls communication, at your own time, at your own pace, and not the other way around!
Do whatever it takes to get into the flow and stay that way as much as you need:
- Close your office door and turn down the blinds. It’s a strong statement, with little room for misunderstandings.
- Signal your busy status within your company’s communication and collaboration app. From my personal experience, with the Artificial Intelligence layer built in Hubgets, my team has found the balance between instant communication and focus. Yours can too 🙂
- Simply put on your headphones and turn the music on.
- The rule of no, no, no — no emails, no chats, no social networks! The most difficult of all, I know, but let’s face it — you cannot focus on getting things done and share memes at the same time.
- Multitasking is a myth, and whomever lobbied for it should have known better. If you are not a computer, multitasking is not a feature, it’s a bug 😀 So don’t!
Do. Repeat. Over & over again!
Now that you know how, you’ll just have to do it again and again. And again. Every day will be different, but that’s the fun of it.
And don’t forget, it’s up to you to steer your mind in grasping the bigger picture, to find the thin balance between your work and working together with others and last, but never least, to get rid of nasty interruptions.
So keep calm and focus on what truly matters.