My children live by "Daddy's Rule"- that is, two hours of homework can be completed in one hour in the public library. We go every weekend. Sometimes I help them study, and sometimes I just buy them snacks and give moral support. Mostly, I catch up on my own work. After a few weeks of library duty I realized that the rule applied to me as much as it did for my kids. The 5 hours at the library each weekend was proving more productive than the other 163 hours in the week. But how?
Deep Focus. I paid close attention, acquired new knowledge, gave careful thought, considered complicated scenarios, brainstormed, analyzed critically and tapped my best creativity when I was in the library. When I am in the office, I often lose focus and engage in Shallow Work. Distractions prevent me from long periods of productivity. I find myself googling every curiosity, reading sports stories, chatting with co-workers, procrastinating, emailing and texting. Lots of the destructive habits that team up against me in the office hide behind the euphemism of multitasking.
So, I started to match my workspace with the tasks when I organize my schedule each week. For in-person meetings and light tasks, office. Back to back conference calls, home office. Complicated, multi-step projects, library. It really worked. I accomplished more and was happier with the results; several coworkers noticed the improvement in my work product.
I'm not the only one. Many who work in offices complain that they get nothing done during the day, and must work early in the AM or after hours to keep up with their work load. Others who work at home say that they are constantly distracted and cannot see projects through to the end.
How are you going to find your "library", the place where you best productivity can be found, and your most successful career performance is hiding? Focus on a few things-
Distractions- Neutralize the enemies productivity; put away the phone, close your email and turn down your ringer.
Small moves- When you are not getting it done at your desk, maybe take your laptop to the lounge and put on your headphones. Or go to Starbuck for an hour. A change of scenery can really help.
Timing- You are a morning person, schedule calls in the afternoon. If the late afternoon is your most productive time of day, leave time for work that requires Deep Focus.
Measurement- Rate your productivity as you work in different environments- volume and quality. If you can't seem to clear your weekly to do list, or if your work is not up to snuff, you need to change.
Accomplish more with a little planning. Or join us in the library on Sunday.
David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org