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The Dog Ate My Homework

Optimize Blog - May 16, 2016 - 0 comments

A common response to the realization that you occasionally work from home is the question “How do you concentrate?” This is natural, given that many office-bound workers seem to associate their home with sleeping, ‘honey-do’ lists and listening to the Grateful Dead’s greatest hits. In a recent review of a productivity diary for a ten-hour working day at home we found that the person involved wasted at least three hours on social networking, instant messaging, unnecessary cleaning, family crises, rearranging books on shelves and pruning the house plants most of which we suspect may actually be dead.
A review of a sequel diary for a ten-hour day in the office proved that, if anything, the individual was even less productive. At least four hours were spent reading and answering inconsequential emails, walking around in search of coffee and biscuits, meetings, commuting, discussing the latest sporting results with colleagues, discussing the latest Donald Trump statement with colleagues, and discussing colleagues with colleagues and of course even more meetings…….
Indeed, it seems to us here at Optimize that the more pertinent question in relation to the modern workplace is “How do people in offices concentrate?” And the answer, if several academic studies are anything to go by, is simply that they don’t. According to one piece of research, it takes 25 minutes for a worker to regain focus on a task interrupted by a phone call, an e-mail, or a conversation. And, apparently, the regular office worker is distracted up to 20 times a day.
Meanwhile, other studies have found that 16 of the 45 hours that US workers toil every week are “unproductive”, that only three of the five days that British staff work are productive, and that the average executive manages to complete only three hours 50 minutes of constructive work each day.
You also sense the intensity of the problem in the tricks that people employ to try to get work done at work. Some block out imaginary meetings with themselves, others give up e-mail, some lock their doors and others retire to the coffee shop around the corner……..
Companies have tried to help by experimenting with “meeting-free Fridays”, e-mail-free hours, switching off the internet for part of the day, and even giving employees a baseball cap to wear that works as a “Do not disturb” sign……
Nothing conveys the desperation more than the tips proffered by productivity experts and the plethora of books on the subject.
Working from home is a realistic solution to improving personal productivity provided we can train ourselves to be disciplined in avoiding distractions and the partner who confuses ‘being home’ with ‘being mine’.
Distractions are all around us and so ensuring that we set boundaries for ourselves is key. The reality is that we have to be ruthless protecting the 1440 minutes we are granted each day whether at home or in the office and once those minutes are gone, they are gone forever.…..

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