Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Protecting your window, part of Managing Your Time.
Even if you know when your Einstein window happens, you have to go a step further and make sure to protect that window. You have to do what it takes to give that time integrity and focus. Now unfortunately, we don't always do that. We've already mentioned how sometimes we spend a chunk of that vital Einstein window on lesser important tasks. That's a big no no. But we don't stop there. Sometimes we do something even worse. We very often say to people, yes. When in fact, sometimes, we have to say no.
It goes like this. You're sitting in your office. You're working on something of interesting importance. And then, a colleague or your boss walks in, and they ask for your help. Hey, can you read this report, and tell me if you find any errors, or some version of that. Now, what do most people say when that happens? Almost always, they say, sure, okay, yes. And you can't do that all the time. We do, but we shouldn't. You can still be nice to someone, helpful, by saying no, if you'll help them later. Just try this the next time you're really focused on something important.
And a well intentioned person comes in. And interrupts your train of thought, just look at them and say, yes I can help you, but not right this moment. Quickly look at your calendar and tell them something like this, two o'clock I'll come see you, we'll knock that out. Is that okay? Almost always, they're going to go, sure, and walk away. And do you know what you've just done? You've minimized the interruption to your most important thinking time for the day. Only ten seconds was required for you to validate your colleague, send them on their way and get back to what you are doing.
So we can't focus on the 80% during that window and we can't say yes to everybody all the time. You know, there is another trick I really want to share with you. And that's to find a way to get away from your normal office space. It's kind of funny. Offices seem oddly designed to maximize disruptions. Instead of what we really need, which is maximizing deep thought. So, if people are in offices, you know, sometimes they should close the door. Open door management's a wonderful idea, but sometimes you need quiet time to really think.
If you work in a cube, sometimes get up, walk away and find an office that's not currently filled. Or maybe a conference room on the other side of the building that no one is using. Sit down, close the door, and enjoy the silence to keep hammering away on the 20% during that Einstein window. You might even go a step further. Think about all the things that distract us at work. I want you to try and make sure they don't distract as often as they could. Some obvious examples, Think about your cell phone. We love it when we hear that thing chirp, but if you want to maximize your cognitive capacity during the Einstein window, you've gotta take little chunks of time with your e-mail program and your smart phone, and turn em off.
I promise you the world won't end, if for 30 minutes, you turn them off and get focused. Stop allowing distractions to take you away from deep thought during your Einstein window.