We have all met someone who proudly declared they work well under pressure. The sort of people who boldly put it on their CV and expect to be rewarded for it. They are most likely the sort of people who annoy colleagues to no end by submitting work five minutes to the deadline and expect to be given a round of applause for it. You may have convinced yourself being able to work under pressure is a skill. Perhaps you also believe you possess that skill. Let me burst your bubble. It is not.
At some point during the past three months, you have probably attended a lot more online meetings than you normally would. If you are anything like me, you probably wondered why some of those meetings took place or why you were invited in the first place? COVID-19 has changed the way we work. More teams are staying in touch using digital technology. Zoom, the video conferencing app saw its shares increase in value as more people signed up to take part in online meetings.
It is understandable that as we continue to work from home, we will have to attend more online meetings. What many people don’t seem to realise, however, is that an online meeting is similar to a physical meeting in one crucial way: there is no guarantee that the meeting will be productive. A lot of people send out invites to online meetings because they confuse busyness with productive. Their supervisor is no longer breathing over their shoulder so they fear being thought of as slackers if they didn’t convene a meeting every few days.
The classic hustler story is of a young entrepreneur possessed of zeal who goes days without sleep working on a project that after many years yields them great profit. During that time, all other concerns such as family responsibilities, food and healthcare miraculously vanish. How else could you explain someone working for a month without sleep?
Emails are making life difficult for many people. If you don’t have a system in place for managing your email inbox, you will soon find yourself responding to other people’s emergencies all the time instead of focusing on your important tasks. To prevent email taking over your life, here are a few principles:
Mornings are not for checking emails
You have no idea what you will find in your inbox. If you start your day, by checking email, you are likely to find the five minutes you had hoped to spend magically became one hour. It’s hard to resist the temptation to reply an email even though some part of us probably knows the reply can wait. If it’s an emergency, you will probably get a phone call instead of an email. Use your morning hours to work on tasks that require deep focus.
In the early days of the internet, email was all the rave. Suddenly, you could send a long message to someone across the world and they would receive it in seconds. You didn’t have to post a letter that would take weeks to deliver. Eventually, email was replaced by Instant Messaging and social networks as the preferred means of instant communication. However, email continues to be used for official communication.
Email has become a productivity death trap for many. It’s easy for anyone to send you an email or copy you in one. Unfortunately, very few people get paid to read and process emails. Unless you are a personal assistant to an Executive or work in Customer-care, you probably don’t fall into this category.
How does your desk look at work? Is it a clear space or does it have an unwashed cup, crumpled pieces of paper, a broken pen and wrappers of kosai on it. If you have trouble focusing at work or even getting started on tasks, a good place to start making changes would be your workspace. When your desk looks like a hurricane has been through it, your mind can’t decide what you want to do. Whether it’s the wrappers of chewing gum that you know you should put in the dustbin, the half eaten plate of rice that you have no intention of finishing, or the flier you were given on your way back from lunch which you have no intention of reading, if it’s on your desk and you don’t need it immediately, it can be a distraction.