How do you manage your time as a knowledge worker?
We live and work as knowledge workers, always connected and paid for what we can do with our minds. As I look at when I accomplish the most or do my best work, I find that it is in the evening, after 5:30, when most people have left the office or other opportunities when I have blocks of un-interrupted time.
- email communication
- connecting with others by phone
- reading articles to keep up with current events and trends
- reading and posting on social media
- mentoring and coaching members of my team
- meeting in the hallway with other executives, shaping thoughts and practices
- eating lunch
- meeting deadlines
- addressing issues
- solving problems
- and yes, some socializing
But then the quiet time comes. In the evening and on the weekends, I get 3 or more hours in a block of time, this is when the best work occurs. As I visit with other professionals I find that I am not alone. So, what are we to do? Here are few ideas I’m working on applying.
This article defines the maker as someone who makes something and needs big blocks of time. Their day is divided into 3 blocks of time: breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner, dinner till sleep. A Maker needs these big blocks of time to make something.
A Manager thrives on a fragmented day, usually divided by meeting after meeting often in one hour blocks of time. But what happens when we need to do do both?
Recommendation: Add this article to the social structure at your office and see if you can create a morning or afternoon block of “maker time” each week. During this time, there would be no meetings, no interruptions and work would get done. What would it mean to your group to add 2, 4 hour blocks of productivity each week?
2. Log out, headphones and signs – Occasionally I can reproduce a block of quiet time by logging out of email, chat and social media. I then tell my co-workers that “I’m going in” to the quiet zone. That means don’t bother me for a while. Then I put my headphones on, the noise canceling kind from Bose, and that helps. I have even gone as far as to put up sign’s that says quiet, do not disturb.
Recommendation: Invest in a set of noise canceling headphones. they will pay for themselves in productivity in no time at all. Besides, the music is great too.
3. Leave the office – Working at home or another location can also help to avoid disturbance and interruptions. I have a friend that goes to the library. It’s one of the few places in our society where everyone is suppose to be quiet yet you can still use a computer. And, they usually have free wifi. I have worked from home and Starbucks but they offer their own form of interruptions and distractions. I’m trying the library next time.
Recommendation: Check out the local library as a place to work in quiet, with out interruptions and distractions.
I look forward to hearing form you as to how you get your best work done.