How can you help your team to achieve their most important work? A recent article in Harvard Business Review says the answer Is for leaders to permit team members to block out time in their day so they are not interrupted by emails, phone calls, meetings, or other interruptions. Constant interruptions to your train of thought causes a loss of focus. With the constant bombardment of interruptions demanding attention, it is easy to see why important work may be left unfinished at the end of the day and week.
The ability to multitask has been viewed as a desirable trait by some; however, focusing on a task to completion is more efficient. Managers should evaluate the workload of their team members to see that they are able to focus on the activities that are most important to their strategic purpose in the organization (their unique skills and talent) and eliminate irrelevant tasks or demands on their time. Blocking out a few hours in the day when they can focus on only the most important tasks should significantly increase efficiency and ultimately affect the bottom line.
- Don't e-mail your employees at all hours — set limits on technology use
- Don't call meetings without an explicit purpose — stick to an agenda
- Don't underestimate the importance of your own behavior — you set the norms on your team
Team members also have responsibility for managing their time properly and may need reminders to turn off email (with an appropriate message on temporary unavailability), focus on one project at a time, and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on their door to have uninterrupted periods of focused work activity. Try these ideas and watch your team become more focused, productive, and less stressed. They will appreciate your support.