My name is Tone Skartveit and I am Head of Communication in an international technology company called Cegal. People that know me well know that I am a sucker for productivity hacks. I have tested all to-do apps in app store, I love leaving the office Friday afternoon with my inbox empty, I make plans and systems to make sure I cover everything (even though I know I am unable to cover everything…)
Today I had an awesome productivity experience. Before I explain more, I would like to take you through «just another day» in Marketing & Communication in Cegal.
My colleague Lise, Marketing Manger, and I are running MarCom in Cegal. In addition to being involved in all kinds of projects, I am also trying to actually produce something. I spend a lot of my time in conversations either in small grops or one on one, and I also attend quite a lot of meetings. This fits my personality quite well as I like collaboration and interaction to get things done. My ideas and creativity works best when I interact with others.
However, to be able to deliver plans, presentations, handle e-mail and trying to deliver on what I have promised I need time for focused work. In the office, this is normally not more than 30-40 minutes without interruptions. Even though I would like to give you the impression that I am so interesting that I have colleagues stopping by or poking me on Skype all day, that would be a lie of quite some size. My worst interruption enemy is myself. I might be opening Google just to have a quick search for a definition, or opening my e-mails to find some small piece of information or a documents ad then suddenly my mind is wandering away.
Sometimes I take a day working form home, and that works quite well, but my digital roundabouts are the sam. I am actually capable of resisting the temptation to do some kitchen cleaning or go for a walk, but I am not an inch more resistant to the art of procrastination. So I tend to have several e- mails in progress, a couple of documents open, some slides that I am adjusting, some meeting preparations or summaries started, and a Skype chat or two going on even though I am left alone in my house. This phenomenom is well known as multi tasking.
So what happened?
Today the multitasking ended, I tried to work focused on one thing at a time for an entire day. The schedule was set,
8.30 – Start with introduction of all eight participants
9-12 – Work with no connection and no phone
12-13 – Lunch (with connection and phone)
13-16 – Another session of working offline
And the deal was:
- No phones for anyone unless during lunch
- No internet connection
- Write down all the «I am just gonna…» on a piece of paper and do it later.
Each work session had a 10 min break in the middle, apart from that the room was quiet. My fellow boot campers were people I know from my network and we were all invited by the fellow behind this blog, Productivity Oracle Jørn Kippersund. You can read more about the concept of Focused Work Bootcamp here. There was this social agreement in the room, to keep on working. Yesterday I did some planning, and made sure I had the documents I needed available offline, and I had brought a book on my favorite subject; communication, as previous boot campers had reported that you get so productive that you are probably underestimating the amount of work you are capable of doing during a day.
I admit it. The first hour without my iPhone within immediate distance was a challenge. I am really bad at leaving my iPhone. We separate every night as I have made myself a promise not to read another Mashable article during the night. But apart from that it is in my hand, pocket or at least in sight at all times. During the first break everyone shared their experiences, and the iPhone addictability turned out to be a common thing. But during that first 1,5 hour I managed to do what I had planned for the whole day. I kid you not.
Luckily I had been a bit optimistic and had more work waiting, but when four o`clock was approaching, I chose to prioritize writing this blog post about the experience.
So, what I learned today was that if you make sure to get rid of all the normal interruption you can get impressingly huge amounts of work done. One thing at a time is a lot better than several. I am my own (and Lise`s) worst productivity enemy. I need to work harder on bringing multitasking to and end, and to limit procrastination. Because if I do, it is easier to get even more work done, and still have time to do the thing I love the most, being social while working together with my fantastic colleagues!
All photos via http://www.unsplash.com