Productivity is exactly like sleep. Wait… what? Let me explain. If you are familiar with the different stages of sleep, you are aware that in order to reach deep sleep you must first complete the two prior sleep stages. If those first two stages are interrupted, it’s almost impossible to reach true deep sleep. In a way, we aren't going to sleep, we are going towards sleep. Productivity works in almost the exact same way.
It takes most of us time to situate ourselves and truly begin to work each day. What we don’t realize is that we are going through stages of productivity with the end goal of true focus at the end. Before I go any further, I want you to think about this question. Where do you want to go when you really want to get something done?
What did you answer? Most likely it wasn’t your office. Why is that? Well just like interruptions waking us up during the first stages of sleep prohibit our deep sleep; interruptions at work while we are getting into the grove of productivity prohibit our ability to get things done. Meetings are those interruptions; they break up the day into sections of time where you have to reset to the first stage of productivity each and every time. This is disastrous to organizations. In order to consider a problem or decision carefully; it takes long stretches of uninterrupted time.
However, there’s more to it than just meetings that can reset your productivity process. One of the reasons that people answer something different than their office is the lack of involuntary distractions. To clarify, voluntary distractions are taking a walk, checking your phone, browsing through social media. They are the “smoke breaks” of work in today’s world. Involuntary distractions are meetings and managers, both are extremely damaging to reaching the final stage of productivity. Managers interrupt for a multitude of reasons and they almost always ask you to stop what you’re doing to take care of their request. But more detrimental is the meetings they call. I’m sure you’ve heard it, “Stop what you're doing, let’s have this meeting.” Having a meeting means resetting and starting on square one.
But meetings are still important to guide the direction of the business. So how do we balance this need of meetings and the need of long periods of uninterrupted time? Some suggest silent hours at work. Giving yourself and your coworkers an environment of no interrupts for an afternoon once a month. You may be surprised in the results. Passive communication can also replace your active communication. Applications such as email and slack allow for you to respond when you’re free instead of having someone tap on your shoulder and interrupt. And finally, it may be helpful to consider whether the meeting is even necessary? Perhaps you can just cancel it. If not, consider putting the meeting at the beginning of the day. People have yet to start their process of becoming productivity and you can still layout the main goals of the week. Productivity is like sleep, stop disrupting it.