Learn about how your peak productivity time is when are you least likely to be interrupted.
- When I speak at events and coach my clients, I often tell them that productivity is more about rhythm than perpetual motion. What this means is that it's not realistic for us to expect ourselves to continuously perform at the same level of productivity constantly, relentlessly without break. In fact, we perform better when we have periods of high activity, periods of low activity and periods of rest. When you're working from home, this principle becomes even more powerful and necessary to your success.
Why? Because you're productivity rhythm extends just beyond your personal biology and tendencies. No, you must also account for things like people, coming and going at certain times of the day. From when a family member is going to need your attention to when people at your office, at the main headquarters want to have meetings with you. Your days and weeks will be constantly peppered with interruptions. It is unavoidable to a degree. But there are a few things that we can do to minimize them.
For now, I want you to pretend that there's nothing you can do. That there is just a pattern that's going to happen each day. Create a blank calendar, or print one out that shows the days of the week and the hours in each day. Now, consider your last week. When were people at work sending you lots of quick questions? When were people at home interrupting you? At what time of the day did that next door neighbor do that noisy thing that distracts you? As you consider this, highlight the periods of open time between those interruptions.
While it may appear to be random, my guess is you'll begin to see a pattern developed. A general area of time where the least amount of interruptions to your focus occur. These are the hours that are most valuable and critical. In fact, it's during these hours that I want you to focus on your most valuable activities. This is a concept I explore in depth in time management fundamentals. For now, just understand that your most valuable activities or MVAs are the one or two things that you do that are worth the most per hour.
For example, if your a sales executive. Is the time when you're reaching out to people or having conversations with them, or if you're a designer, it's the time when you're really focused intently on creating powerful work for your clients. By identifying the pattern of when you're least likely to be interrupted, you can begin to develop a framework for your days and weeks. Then, when you plan work and when you meet with people from your office, try to schedule lower value activity during the times when you're most likely to be interrupted, and try to schedule the highest value activity during those pockets of time where you can be most focused.
Now, a caution. Even after you discover your pattern, expect that you will still, occasionally be interrupted during those times, it's unavoidable. It's impossible to say that there's a time where you will never be interrupted. When those interruptions occur, you will need to deal with them. That's life. If you expect it to happen, occasionally, you'll be less likely to experience frustration when they do occur. However, even those some interruptions are inevitable, we can take steps to dramatically reduce them.
You can improve your odds of success by scheduling your most important and most valuable work during the time when switches are least likely to occur. At the end of this video, open up your calendar and create two recurring time slots when you will focus on your most valuable activities. Then, during the next two to three weeks, assess how that schedule is working for you and then adjust it if necessary. As you fine tune this over time, you'll be able to get into the groove and find your personal productivity rhythm at home.
- Creating a productive environment
- Creating a balanced schedule
- Using virtual meetings
- Staying responsive
- Balancing roles as a parent, caregiver, and professional
- Managing interruptions and emergencies at home