You enter into your office building with the over-familiar caffeine in the cup and a sandwich in the pack—your usual. Occasional smiles and hallway exchange of pleasantries are a common sight in the morning. You look around and get to that elevator door before it closes or gets full in the hustle-bustle of your everyday routine.
Think these are the only things that you have in common with all the other departments in the company? Think again.
While the above scene may be a representative of what a typical day starts out like for most employees rushing to work, let’s examine below what the next few hours will be like.
A light breakfast and coffee at one’s own desk perhaps while casually screening through the emails that need to be responded to by the end of the day. Flagging, deleting, forwarding and trashing. Setting reminders for meetings, jotting down points on the task bar, and setting reminders on your calendar for projects that need to be finished before the end of the week to team members. Before you’ve downed the sandwich from breakfast, chances are you have already started receiving text messages from friends and family about various but mostly mindless things.
The desk phone starts ringing with the business complaining about lack of resources and the need to ramp up the division. While you try to wrap your mind about the seriousness of the issue and delve into what your staffing team is currently doing to attend to it, a chat window pops up. It’s a team member trying to work on the ambitious elephantine requirement and you type, “on call- BRB.” It doesn’t matter, you’ve lost your train of thought already and you could hear the level of frustration on the other line while business hangs up.
You decide to step up and bring in the A game by trying to headhunt the profiles yourself and log into Linkedin only to find that the Pulse articles and your Networks Updates are inviting you on the screen to spend some time exploring. Skim through the overabundance of network updates, to Like, Share and Comment and before you know it, it’s already time for that first lunch meeting. You have just enough time to retweet that job you posted a week ago.
Stop. Rewind back to an age and time when there was no technology. How much more focused, task oriented and productive were employees of that generation than those of today? While technology has undoubtedly been a boon, there is no doubt that it has filled our day today lives with so much chaos. So how can employees rummage through this screen full of clutter?
While technology has certainly been a binding force in transforming the world, a challenge today for many individuals and organizations will be to make optimum use of it without it overwhelming us. Here are a few guidelines that one can follow in their day-to-day work life which will soon become a habitual routine with positive reinforcement.
1. Keep your work and family/ friends separate.
There is no need for your friends to call or text you during work hours unless absolutely necessary. Change your status on WhatsApp, Skype, or other text, chat and messaging services from available to ‘busy but will talk if absolutely necessary’. You can always change it back when you are free for social conversations. If not, you are inviting trouble and distractions.
2. When on the phone, turn yourself away from the screen.
It is imperative to have meaningful—even if brief—conversations in those business calls. If the screen in front of you is popping up windows that are going to distract you, get into the habit of keeping a pen and paper handy and only jotting down/brainstorming ideas and notes. Eventually, you will find yourself taking notes on the computer with your trained eyes focusing only the blank note pad on the screen.
3. Change your chat status message to ‘Do not Disturb’.
No it is not rude to let your colleagues know you are busy working, planning and completing tasks. Over a period of time, they will come to admire your time management skills. Do not be surprised if you see ‘DND’ trendsetting among the team and slowly throughout the organization.
4. Set boundaries.
Limit the hours for using social networking and professional networking sites. It is almost suicidal to keep all networking sites open since tweets, updates and news flashes are all real-time. So regardless of whether you choose to see it or not, your eyes are bound to visually scan through interesting material and lure you into time wasting reads. Those headlines are tricky!
5. Plan not just your day, but also the week.
Planning is never too dated. Divide your work hours to productive hours to be invested in phone calls, emails, meetings, networking, sharing and updating. If you find that you are able to get through 80% of your tasks on the check-list, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. There will always be impromptu events and discussions that will take up time and that have to be attended to because they are the needs of the hour.
There is a popular misconception that responding and clearing emails means that work is done. Emails are only a means of communication and real work gets done when a goal is complete. So in order to be really productive and orderly at work it is necessary to constantly measure yourself against your target end goal. You will soon find that all these distractions add up in our journey and are actually enablers helping you reach the intended objective. Remember to be on top of technology and not vice versa, because we hold the key to using it wisely and judiciously.
Og Mandino says, “Never again clutter your days and nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!”