I wrote a post a few days ago about not being able to switch off and be focused. Well, that was the intention, but it came across in different ways to different people. I got lots of feedback from it, ranging from useful tips and interesting conversations to the usual “here’s my unsolicited advice”—all of which I’m grateful for.
However, I do want to clarify, I do know how to focus and when I need to. The post was simply pointing out that we don’t all live in the luxury life where we can just turn everything off. If you work for yourself, there’s a tendency to forget, some of us (most of us) have an environment we need to be contactable in.
Unfortunately, countless businesses and management of those businesses expect things done certain ways and emails to be answered, etc. I am semi lucky that I don’t work for one of them, and I get plenty of time for deep work and creativity if I need it. Which, I doubt is the case for most people.
There’s a lot of research to suggest that the average time workers actually spend working in a day is a fraction of the period of time they are “at work”. Most experiencing 56 distractions a day, which is insane levels of outside noise to be expected to work in.
There is no luxury of turning off your email, or unplugging your phone in these places, and they are often starved of focused time to be able to do things properly. All the self-help books, dreaming of a world without email and productivity advice in the world won’t make a dent if the company culture doesn’t change.
Focused work is so important to each worker at all levels of employment. Yet, much like the weirdness we are seeing with working from home, there is a tendency to lean into “that’s just how we’ve always done it” and expect email to be answers straight away and phone calls to be taken. How many times have you sat in a meeting that should have been an email?