Over the past two weeks, I wrote about managing your physical energy and emotional energy. The key to managing your physical energy was sleeping, eating a nutritious breakfast, working out regularly, and not skipping lunch or breaks at work. For mastering your emotional energy comes to deciding to respond vs. react to a situation. This week I will be writing about maximizing your productivity through mindful energy.
Mindfulness is not all woo-woo as you might think. Think about walking into the office where all of the bosses are at a meeting for the day and then a couple of your co-workers are out of the office too. Overall, the office is very quiet. Rather than starting your morning at the water cooler chatting, you start with a hard project first. Two hours later, you realize that not only did you finish that hard project in less time than you expected but also you got it done without any interruptions. How do you feel? You probably feel like a total badass and go grab a coffee to celebrate.
Now picture walking into the office with everyone in the office, the phone rings every 22 minutes, emails keep popping up every 3 minutes, and that one weird person that loves to reheat fish from another department wants to show you their pet rock collection. How long do you think that hard project is going to take you today? Maybe it is going to take more than a day to complete. How do you feel? Worn out, tired?
All of those distractions cost your company at least a day or two of your salary. Distractions are expensive. As I have previously written, you are more efficient and productive if you designate time to single-tasking by working one project at a time.
How do you fix this problem? First, you need to create personal rituals. Second, you need to communicate your personal rituals. Lastly, you need to stick with your personal rituals and adjust if they do not work.
- Practice meditation. If you think you do not need meditation or that it is nuts, you need it more. Remember that Steve Jobs practiced meditation and he still had time to develop amazing technology.
- Relocate. Consider going to an empty conference room for an hour or two to complete a project. Do not take email and phone distractions with you.
- Be present. If you accepted a meeting, be at your meeting. Being on your phone during a meeting is wasting everyone else’s time.
- Schedule e-mail. Turn off the email pop-ups, dings, and buzzes and schedule periodic time to check emails. Consider checking email after you complete each project or complete a meeting.
- Tackle hard projects first. Before you check your voicemail or open your email as soon as you walk into the office, decide to tackle hard projects first. The night before you should leave yourself a note on what needs to be completed so that you can start immediately.
- Do Not Disturb. We are more connected than ever these days by phone, email, voicemail, text, internal messaging systems, etc. Schedule time spots in your schedule to be completely unavailable.
Communicate Rituals. Listen going off the grid might sound awesome to you. Your team will be questioning a whole lot of things. Instead, communicate your rituals. Explain how long your team should expect you to be unavailable. Offer an alternative means of communication. For example, you will not be checking emails between 1-2 pm each afternoon so that you can work on a report that is due by the end of each day, communicate just that. Offer your team an alternative means of communication for urgent matters via phone. How many emergencies do you think really occur? Not many as you think.
If I were to ask you the following four questions, how would you respond?
- Do you have difficulty focusing on one task at a time? Are you easily distracted?
- Do you feel that you spend more time reacting to fires rather that value added, long term projects?
- Do you take time to reflect, plan, and think?
- Do you take work home with you on the weekend, nights, and/or vacations?
If you said yes to any of these questions, please consider adding a mindful ritual to your day to improve you personal productivity.