Did you know productivity in knowledge workers hasn’t increased since the introduction of email in the 90s? People are getting worse at focusing, and at the same time more distractions are introduced, this makes us feel productive, even though we aren’t actually getting anything done. Work has become more and more synonymous with communication (meetings, calls, email, slack/IM) and less with focused work without interruptions. This is something we need more of, but are getting worse at.

We are, among other things, expected to be available instantly during our workday (and when we get home). We sit in open office settings where anyone is “allowed” to bother you at any given time. This could be amazing when you need inspiration and new ideas – and can sometimes ruin a whole day, making you spend an entire night doing what you should have done.

How can you survive this modern office paradox? Here are my five best tips:

Noise Cancelling headphones

God’s gift to the modern office worker. If you haven’t tried it, I can’t recommend them enough. You can completely block out vacation plans, phone calls and annoying shows on the radio, things that your brain usually tracks in the background. If you want to be completely inside your own bubble, there’s an amazing service called Noisli, where you can mix your own soundtrack from rain, fire, forest sounds or trains. Try it yourself, it’s addictive.

Do NOT check your email

Don’t check your email/slack from the end of your workday until 10:30 the next day. Crazy, right? Many people haven’t been doing this in 20 years, but try it and see how much you get done before you check your email the first time, instead of following someone else’s agenda. Also, you’re going to have a calmer and more relaxing morning if you don’t check your email/slack when you wake up. It’s about finishing the most important task of the day, before you start running after things someone else sent to your inbox. (If you really can’t miss your emails, try adding an auto-reply saying “I will check my email at 10.30, if you need me before that you can reach me via text message”)

Your phone is your enemy

You might believe that your phone is a great work tool? That’s right, but it’s also your biggest time thief, and it interrupts you hundreds of times in one work day with ringtones, notifications and other silly things, drawing your eyes to it, and in doing so interrupting your focus and stealing another 20 minutes of your time. Google, Facebook and Instagram make an incredible amount of money by selling your attention to advertising companies, and they have tens of thousands of engineers that work daily with algorithms that make you dedicate your attention to their service. How do you solve it? Here comes a GOLDEN guide that will show you how to make your phone work FOR you instead of AGAINST you. This is a looooooooong text, but it’s going to GREATLY improve your life.

Meditate more!

If you have meditated or worked with mindfulness – try it and see if it works for you. There are applications like Calm or Headspace that can help calm, collect and prioritize your thoughts. When everything is spinning fast, people tend to believe that everything is roughly equal in importance, this is never true. However, Pareto’s Law is almost always true: 20% of your work produces 80% of the result. Focus on those 20%.

Tomatoes can help

Have you heard about the Pomodoro-method? It’s a simple method: work in 25-minute intervals, then pause for five minutes. Try to repeat this as many times as you can. For this to work, you need to turn off all distractions (mail, notifications etc.) during your 25-minute intervals, and during your break, you’re not allowed to use a screen. Repeat until you’re done with whatever you needed to finish.

So, those were my five best tips to improve at work. If it doesn’t work, maybe you should unleash your rage the next time you get interrupted – fear can also be effective. 🙂

And when you really need to leave the office to get something done, maybe one of our 60 meeting rooms could be a place for you to hide in and leave the phone outside?

// Lisa

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