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The Two Things Killing Your Ability to Focus

The Two Things Killing Your Ability to Focus
Executive Summary Managers and employees increasingly find themselves stumbling through the workday bombarded by distractions from every direction. Constant updates from digital devices and constant meetings are the main culprits of personal distraction in the workplace. These issues need to be reined in by business leaders if productivity and employee well-being is a priority.


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Our inability to focus

Two significant challenges are destroying our ability to focus.

  1. We are increasingly overwhelmed with distractions from various connected devices.
  2. We rely excessively on meetings as the default form of interaction with other people at work. Studies reveal that we spend 35% -55% of our time on meetings.

    We need to set aside more time if we want to remain focused and productive at work.

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    Practice mindfulness

    Our biggest mistake is how we start the day. Instead of checking email on your phone, try a simple mindfulness practice when you wake up. 

    It can be quietly taking a few deep breaths or meditating for 20 to 30 minutes.

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    Organize tasks

    A common mistake is to fill your calendar with the wrong tasks.
    A meeting can break your day into two pieces, each too small to do anything hard in.

    Instead, take advantage of your body's natural rhythms. Focus on complex, creative tasks in the morning and schedule your meetings for the afternoon.

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    Clean up

    Your environment affects your productivity and quality of work. Don't let yourself get distracted by clutter.

    To help you stay focused, take the time to clean up your work environment, both physical and digital.

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    Shrink meetings

    Limit the number of people in any meeting to eight or fewer, unless the meeting is informational.

    Ensure that your meetings result in action items, a timeline for each action item, and one person who is responsible.

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    Preserve buffers

    Switching tasks and context is difficult. You cannot be efficient if you run from meeting to meeting. If you want to avoid wasting time, add buffer time between each meeting.
    For every 45 - 60 minutes you spend in a meeting, take 15 minutes to process, reflect, and prioritize.

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    Working Remotely

    There is ongoing turbulence in the workplace due to the uncertainties provided by the new virus, resulting in a whole lot of people working from home. Normally the work-from-home policies are esta...

    Common Challenges of Remote Work

    Even high-performing employees can face a decline in job performance and engagement when working remotely. This can be due to:

    • Lack of face-to-face supervision, which leads to a two-way communication gap and even mistrust.
    • There is a delay in the procurement of information as remote workers aren’t able to sense the atmosphere and real-time events at the workplace, leading to a lack of ‘mutual knowledge’.
    • A sense of isolation among remote workers, leading to a feeling of less belongingness within the organization.
    • Distractions at home due to unplanned work-from-home transition, with employees balancing childcare and many other responsibilities along with work.

    Improving Engagement And Productivity

    A few specific, research-backed steps that can be taken to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees:

    • Establishing Structured Daily check-ins, by establishing a daily call or touchpoint.
    • Providing several different communication technology options, using virtual communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc., and making use of video conferencing.
    • Establishing clear rules of engagement for communicating with the coworkers or the managers, according to the levels of urgency.
    • Providing opportunities for remote social interaction by talking about non-work activities, thereby reducing the feeling of isolation among remote workers.
    • Offering encouragement and emotional support by listening to the workers, acknowledging their stress, and keeping their needs and issues in focus.

    One on one meetings

    ...are held between a team leader and team member

    They are conversations that usually last no longer than 10 to 30 minutes where they discuss what is going well and what needs t...

    A recommended agenda

    Most effective one on one meetings typically last about 30 minutes:

    • 10 minutes for the direct report from the employee;
    • 10 minutes for the manager’s remarks and messages, and;
    • 10 minutes for the employee and manager to draw a way forward.

    Objectives of effective 1:1 meetings

    • find out about the employee’s current emotional state.
    • track the status of the employee’s performance and how their goals are coming along.
    • learn if there are any obstacles in the way to the employee’s goals.
    • discuss specific issues – either the employee’s, the manager’s, or both.
    • get honest value-added feedback from the employee.
    • provide an opportunity for the manager to coach the employee.
    • share formal and informal information about the team and company as a whole.

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    Measuring Employee Productivity

    Measuring Employee Productivity

    Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mi...

    The Old Productivity Formula

    The basic productivity formula(productivity= output divided by input) worked well in the industrial age as the output and input were clearly defined and measurable.

    Today’s leaders need innovative solutions to measure and improve productivity in a knowledge-based workplace, as the measurement of output and input is not what it was.

    Quality And Quantity

    While assigning value to the output of knowledge workers, we cannot simply measure the output like before.

    Coders and doctors cannot be measured by the hour, as their output is not uniform or consistent every hour.