I had a hugely productive and energising day last Thursday. Oddly enough, it was completely silent yet offered me uninterrupted time at my home office; no teleconferences, no sessions with clients, no distractions. I actually was a bit surprised when I first looked at my diary that morning how ‘free’ I was! So I chose to use the day to actually work, but in an all too-rare way for me. I didn’t read emails as they came in – but saved them for the end of the day. I didn’t take calls, rather I worked on several new presentations for clients and wrote new articles. I was reminded of a great a TED video of Jason Fried – co-author of ‘Rework’. He challenges companies to rethink the way people ‘work’ at the office – noticing that very rarely do people actually do their best work in their company headquarters.
Think about it yourself – where do you often do your best thinking and come up with your most creative answers? Probably not in the long-stretches of uninterrupted time you get at your desk from 9-5 – because those stretches of time are long gone. Provocatively, Fried cites “M&M’s as the main culprits of stealing time to get good work done – meetings and managers. He argues we populate our days with too many distractions – long conversations and over scheduled meetings. It’s no wonder most people when asked where they do their best work will give answers that vary from ‘first thing in the morning, before anyone else arrives’ or ‘on the train on the way in’ or ‘at my local coffee shop’ or ‘at my kitchen table’ or as many of my clients would attest; ‘on the one day I work from home!” His ideas are insightful as he challenges you to think about how you work best and empower your colleagues to do the same – whether that means by adopting ‘No Talk Thursday’ or cancelling most meetings. I’ve started in my own small way today – by changing the setting on my email to ‘manually download’ rather than be distracted by the siren call of incoming messages. Now if I could just make all aspects of my day as productive….