71% find too many of their meetings unproductive and inefficient.
(Boston University study of 182 senior managers in 2020)
How many of us would agree? Lots! One of the greatest challenges to productivity in our meetings and interactions is us not being ourselves. We measure it with our High Performing Team stats. Ego, “professionalism”, conformity, prove it strategies all add up to a potentially transactional dynamic which at its worst results in a lack of trust.
We talk about waves of infection with coronavirus and this week I noticed people talking about waves of home working. With the trend of moving more to working remotely the general descriptions are wave one (already passed) which sees us aiming to replicate the office remotely. Wave two (currently passing/in) learning how to optimise digital tools. Third wave, trading an always in culture for a commitment to deep work.
I love this “deep work” idea. So many of us go through our weeks transitionally, ticking things off lists (don’t get me started on our control strategies and need for autonomy) and so not often really using our intuition, deep thinking and reflection to innovate, change, pivot and be more successful. It is like a whole part of the best of us is not actively used in our day to day working world.
In his book “Deep Work” Cal Newport shares four rules to maximise deep work;
- Work deeply – don’t wait for lots of free time, include blocks of time in your diary now.
- Embrace boredom – train yourself to concentrate, frequently expose yourself to boredom, don’t whip out your phone at the slightest hint of boredom.
- Quit social media.
- Drain the shallows – remove as many things as you can that don’t require uninterrupted concentration.
Not only can these be powerful for us, what if teams really activated deep work and not just on their annual “offsite”. All of us have the potential to innovate, be productive, create and improve in our working world. And when we do, we notice how much we make a difference and really enjoy ourselves. And yet with back to back meetings and calls including for many the time that used to be the commute we still don’t create the time to maximise this powerful opportunity.
Here are a few tips, questions and reflections to help you to work more deeply and in a way that is true to you;
- Decide to work your way. All of us are different. Some of us naturally leap into action, others of us like to reflect and be thoughtful first. Whatever feels right for you, do it and worry less about being the same as others.
- Create rituals, reminders to step away from the tick lists to go within and listen and create. The beginning and end of working days work well. But stay in work mode. Look above the projects and organisation. Take stock.
- Switch your brain off and allow it to work things out for you. We all know this can work overnight. You fall asleep with a question and the answer is there for you in the morning. Train yourself to switch your brain off during your working day for short periods. 20 minutes can do it. I find it is enhanced with repetitive action, walking, organising, driving.
- Speaking of driving. Turn the radio off! Especially on long journeys. Spend time with yourself in contemplation.
- Challenge your working team to build in team down time. I don’t mean zoom drinks. I mean meandering pottering thinking out loud, with moments of pace and brilliance. Just exploring together. Capturing ideas and bouncing off each other.
Using you as well as your brain and logic at work is powerful stuff. If we get an 88% impact on average positivity and happiness at work, by helping you to be you, imagine the impact of you on workplace culture too. Exciting!