We’re simply not wired to monitor an ongoing stream of unpredictable communication at the same time that we’re trying to also finish actual work. E-mail introduced this problem of communication-driven distraction, but Slack pushed it to a new extreme. We both love and hate Slack because this company built the right tool for the wrong way to work.
Cal Newport on the 43 Folders blogger Merlin Mann; the late productivity expert Peter Drucker; the author David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method; and why G.T.D. doesn’t address the anxiety and inefficiency associated with e-mail overload, a phenomenon that knowledge workers experience in the office.
In software development, for example, it’s widely accepted that programmers are most effective when they work on one feature at a time, focussing in a distraction-free sprint until done. It’s conceivable that other knowledge fields might enjoy similar productivity boosts from more intentional assignments of effort. What if you began each morning with a status meeting in which your team confronts its task board? A plan could then be made about which handful of things each person would tackle that day. Instead of individuals feeling besieged and resentful—about the additional tasks that similarly overwhelmed colleagues are flinging their way—they could execute a collaborative plan designed to benefit everyone.
I think the biggest challenge with this is as much about mindset as it is about process. It is interesting to consider this alongside discussions around distributed leadership.
It feels impossible to get anything done right now. Here’s how to keep your head above water—without falling into the busy trap.
via Doug Belshaw
Another response that I liked was this from Ben Collins.
Half my feed:
– here's 10 new businesses I'm going to start today
– I read 5 philosophy books before breakfast
– HELP 😵 it's 10 and I've run out of toddler activities already
– u take first 4hrs, I'll take next 4, u do bath time + bed routine, I'll clean
— Ben Collins (@benlcollins) March 25, 2020
I could talk about how I lead my life, and how I like to balance doing leadership, doing creative work, interacting with people, and doing things that let me learn. I could talk about how I try to set things up so that what I’ve already built doesn’t keep me so busy I can’t start anything new. But instead what I’m going to focus on here is my more practical personal infrastructure: the technology and other things that help me live and work better, feel less busy, and be more productive every day.
In my new role I really had to think hard about what strategies I use to stay productive. This was working until I changed teams and subsequently work. Being a lot more collaborative and involving a centralised response system, I have tried (and failed) a number of strategies to make it all work for me. One approach was to create a Google Sheet, which was organise into categories and had a status column which allowed me to prioritise.
I liked this setup as it allowed me to easily change the statuses and add links to further information. The issue is that it involves a lot of doubling up between systems.
In the end, I am getting what needs to be done completed at the moment, but I am still looking for something more productive.
Productivity is the amount of useful output created for every hour of work we do.
All of the most awesome people I know have nothing like a work-life ‘balance’. Instead, they work hard, play hard, and tie that to a mission bigger than themselves.
Whether that’s true for the staff on targets in Amazon warehouses is a different matter, of course. But for knowledge workers, I think it’s spot-on.