Friday, November 25, 2011

Real Work

I am always questioning myself - how can I do better work in a better manner? A TED talk by Jason Fried of 37 signals and author of Rework, talks about why work doesn't get done at the office. The first premise is that work is like sleep; when you go to sleep, you actually go to sleep in different phases till you actually hit deep sleep. The same is true of work, especially creative work. It is very hard to do high quality work when you are being constantly interrupted by managers and colleagues.

So what's the solution? The first step is to recognize that its these involuntary interruptions that are often more of a problem than voluntary interruptions like Facebook and Twitter. Jason rightly points out that no one would stop you from taking a 15 minute cigarette break. Why should companies stop you from taking a 15 minute Facebook break.

The next step: solve the problem by:

1. Encouraging uninterrupted work periods by using more passive methods of communication like email and IM rather than tapping someone on the shoulder and interrupting them. Doing so requires two aspects: using these methods, and also not being interrupted by these methods all the time. If you are someone like me who is constantly checking email (and trying to get rid of the habit), then an email interruption is as bad as someone tapping me on the shoulder

2. Set expectations: emails will not be answered instantly. As a manager, don't hold a grudge against an employee who did not drop everything and respond to your email. If there is something truly urgent, call the person.

3. Hold less meetings. Invite fewer people to meetings. Think of how much time is wasted in meetings. Schedule meetings at a more appropriate time e.g., early mornings might be a better for people to get their work done, so schedule it later in the day.

For more, see the video below...

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