I find that I can be the most productive at work during my ‘witching’ hours. That hour or so at the very beginning or end of the day when I am not interrupted, when my focus can be completely on the task at hand and I am working on the ‘big’ tasks. Unfortunately, this prime environment for productivity cannot be maintained and eventually the interruptions and distractions begin. It is also not feasible to begin work a few hours earlier and finish a few hours later every day as that would extend the working day to about 12 hours. So, how can I recreate this environment to ensure that my time at work is spent being productive?
Peter Bregman the author of 18 minutes: Find your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done (2011) believes that little rituals every day can help you improve and maintain your productivity at work. Rituals such as
“Spending five minutes in the morning to place your most important work onto your calendar;
Stopping every hour to ask yourself whether you’re sticking to your plan;
Spending five minutes in the evening to learn from your successes and failures;
Answering your emails in chunks at predetermined times during the day instead of whenever they come in;
And never letting anything stay on your to do list for more than three days (after which either do it immediately, schedule it in your calendar, or delete it).”
Bergman states that if you consistently practice these rituals, or whichever pattern works for you, then it won’t take long for your rituals to become habitual. Once these rituals become habits they become your identity and then, you become a productive person.
So often at the end of a day I reflect on what I have achieved and find that I have spent my day being re-active to emails, phone calls and interacting with my colleagues (all important parts of the job), but the ‘big’ tasks, the pro-active tasks are often left on my to-do list. I am hoping, however, through sticking to Bergman’s few simple rituals I can turn those rare ‘witching’ hours into extended hours, without actually having to work longer days.
Bergman, P. (2011). 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, And Get The Right Things Done. Business Plus: Warner Books.
This post was written by OPRA Alumni Ali Dwan.