Despite growing evidence and plenty of discussion around how multitasking is not just ineffective but actually bad for your brain, we can’t seem to banish multitasking from our workday. Notifications from multiple devices cascade through our ears, pulling us away from the task we’re trying to focus on. Open tabs in our browsers seem to multiply like rabbits. Suddenly, it seems like the only way we can accomplish anything is to do multiple things at once.
But is multitasking really the problem? As I prepared to write this article, I was pulled away by a phone call, multiple text messages, checking to make sure I responded to an email, and of course a pit stop on Facebook. Psychologists have dubbed this incessant barrage of tasks, necessary or otherwise, that draw us away from what we’re currently doing task switching.
Read how task switching might be derailing your productivity and focus.
For a majority of Americans, August’s arrival means time for vacation. This is the month many organizations quiet down as employees scatter to various destinations (or opt for a restful “staycation” close to home).
It’s important to step away from work for a week or two each year for some real, honest unplugging from your iPhone, email, and any other work. But we can’t expect a week or two of vacation to sustain us throughout the year. We also need to build consistent times of rest into our everyday rhythm.
So while you may be away from the office this month (or even if you work through August, it’s likely a bit quieter than usual), take some time to consider how you can build rest into your life on a regular basis.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
We’ve all heard the research: rest is important, and without it, we burn out. We know resting is a good idea (and have learned how burnout wreaks havoc on our bodies and relationships the hard way).
But resting isn’t just a quantity issue - it’s a quality issue, too. If you don’t know what kind of rest truly restores your mind, body, and soul, you may not be experiencing the quality rest you need. It’s time to think about what activities are restful for you, and perhaps more important, what isn’t.
Click to read how to not just rest, but rest well.
If you’ve encountered languages other than the one you grew up with, you’ve likely discovered a word that captures an idea that doesn’t quite translate directly into your own language.
I like it when that happens. It introduces me to a new way of thinking, to a concept I hadn’t considered in the same way.
The ancient Greek language has two different words for time. Chronos refers to the kind of time we measure by the ticking clock. It’s the time we use as we try to meet deadlines, make it to appointments, or go to bed at a decent hour. We cite it in numbers: 8:45 a.m., 4:15 p.m.
Kairos, on the other hand, has a spiritual implication, a sense of significance. It represents time “in the moment,” giving everything into that moment and receiving everything it has to offer. On Kairos time, you are truly present, not rushing toward the next thing.
Which type of time energizes you? Which drains you? And most importantly, which is your default setting?
Click to read more.
Last month, we talked about focus. This month, we’re discussing freedom and how your job impacts your personal and professional freedoms. We wrote about Baseball, Lightning Bugs, and Fireworks - and the freedom to pursue your passions. Now we want to talk about the freedom to focus. Does your workplace limit your freedom to focus, making it more difficult for you to accomplish your objectives and achieve your goals? We’ve been there. Here are some ways you can regain your freedom to focus at work.
Ding! A new email. Ding! An urgent text message. And don’t get me started on the numerous project management software options out there - while they all have good intentions, and can be used to make our work lives much easier, often they become another layer of bureaucracy and a place where good ideas go to die.
And then the phone rings, and you’re 10 minutes late for your next meeting… lather, rinse, repeat.
Research shows that knowledge workers are interrupted a staggering 20 times an hour. That’s why we end up spending almost two-thirds of our day just managing our work, not actually doing it.
Does this describe you? Do you leave work feeling like you accomplished far less than you should in 8, 9, 10 or more hours? It it impossible to even gain a moment’s peace in your office?
If so, you’re not alone. But you’re also not doomed to spend your remaining years at work trying to survive the chaos. Here are three steps to getting your freedom to focus back.
I ran into the mother of one of my son’s pre-school classmates at the end-of-the-school-year picnic. We exchanged the usual chit-chat, and she mentioned she was going to be spending the summer with her daughter full-time. I responded, “Wow! That’s wonderful! Is your boss offering you a leave of absence?”
She responded with what I’ve heard too many times before: “No, I’ve decided to leave. I couldn’t handle being pulled in so many directions anymore. I’ll take the summer off and start looking for a new job in the fall.”
I looked across the park, to a tree where I had shared a conversation with one of my son’s classmates’ fathers not too long ago. This man shared that he had just left the job he loved and “downshifted” into another position, because the new job was more predictable. He had aging parents as well as young children to worry about, and while he had been a rock star at work, he needed a job that gave him space to take care of his family.
If these individuals had made these choices because they actually wanted something new, I’d be all for it. But in both instances, they were exhausted, burned out, and leaving careers they had been committed to and where they were making an impact. There just wasn’t space leftover to be committed to their other priorities, too.
We all have tastes, smells, and sights that signal to us that the long-awaited summer is finally here. For me, it’s baseball, lightening bugs, and fireworks. As a child I attended an annual 4th of July picnic, and seeing friends and neighbors, drinking birch beer (from a keg!), and watching fireworks was the sign summer had arrived.
But when I stop and think about the meaning of the 4th of July, I realize the true weight of the holiday. We proudly sing of the “rockets red glare” at the start of every baseball game, but those rockets weren’t fireworks of celebration - they were real mortars, aimed directly at the heart of American freedom.
As my awareness of our global political climate has grown, I’ve realized that while our country and the things it stands for are far from perfect, our democracy is pretty amazing. Our country rose from the ashes of rebellion to build a society that at its core aims to give everyone a chance at life and liberty. The pursuit of happiness is the icing on the cake. Does this always work in practice? Unfortunately, no. But without the red glare of those rockets, we wouldn’t have the freedom to practice our religion, gather together, and speak our mind.
One of my favorite freedoms is the freedom to pursue our passions, and if we’re really lucky, build a career out of those passions. In a perfect world, work is about more than putting food on the table (though I feel blessed every day to be able to provide for my family). Our world is full of real, serious challenges, and work is an opportunity to face those challenges head on and make the world a little better place.
Read more after the jump.
One of our most frequently asked questions is, “So is anyone else on this shorter workday bandwagon?” And the answer is - yes!
There are several modern and historical examples of people who intentionally structured their workday to reflect shorter, more concentrated hours of effective activity. Research shows that our productivity wanes the longer we’re at work, and in our digital age, we end up spending more time managing our work than actually doing it. (How many emails are in your inbox right now? Too many? That’s what we thought!) That’s why a shorter workday that manages to outcomes instead of time clocked makes the most of your brain power and gives you back the valuable time you’re losing to unproductive tasks.
Read more to learn which famous people worked only four hours a day to achieve success.
Earlier this month, we talked about how meditation is the first step to reducing distractions. You have to be calm inside your brain to face the onslaught of issues you’ll encounter each day.
But in the spirit of continuing our focus on focus, here's another thought: my morning meditation enables me to be the thermostat, not the thermometer. This was important advice given to me by a friend when I had my second child. She said, “your life is getting increasingly complex, which means there will be unexpected issues all the time. You can decide if they control you, or if you control your reaction to them. I’d recommend you choose to be the thermostat, not the thermometer."
Find out how to improve your focus by being a thermostat, not a thermometer.
If time is our most valuable resource, and how we spend our time defines who we are, then why do we waste so much of it? And why, in the age of apps and gadgets, does managing our time seem more difficult?
It’s easy to place the blame on the pull of social media, and it’s true that two-thirds of employees spend time on social media at work. But wasted time at work goes beyond surfing the Internet or chatting about your weekend with coworkers.
We’re wasting time when we spend more of our time managing our work than actually doing it.
Find out how much time the average worker wastes each day and how your team beat the statistics!
Our theme this month is Focus. Join us as we explore ways to improve your focus so you can be as effective as possible!
On the blog this month, we’re focusing on focus. It’s the key ingredient to success for any individual or organization: your ability to pay attention to the most important things and block out the seemingly endless distractions.
If I have learned anything in life, it is to learn from other people’s experience. Life is too short to figure everything out on my own. So when I hear people I admire talking about the importance of their spiritual health, meditation, or gratitude practices, I listen. And when I recognize that so many of them point to just that practice as being the most important ingredient of their success, I really listen.
Click through to learn the number one focus hack of the pros.
One question we’re often asked when talking with organizations about changing the way they work is, “So you’re just trying to get people to telework or have flexible hours?”
Actually, no. Teleworking and flex schedules are great for lots of employees who need freedom from a physical office location or need to adjust their work hours to meet their other commitments.
But at MatchPace, we want to see much deeper organizational change for our clients.
What if you could design a workday that rewarded efficiency and actual outcomes, not time clocked? What if doing so gave you valuable hours back into your day while making your team more productive?
Read on to learn how!
Offices are known targets of jokes and criticism (why do you think Dilbert, Office Space, and The Office are so funny? They resonate with our experiences of pointless reports, unnecessary overwork, and oddball colleagues).
So most people think: if you want something to be different, you have to leave an office job and become a free agent or go start your own organization. There’s no way you can update an existing bureaucratic behemoth to be more nimble, to adjust to the knowledge economy, to be anything other than Dilbert in real life.
Similarly, many people would also say that you should just build a new house if you want to cut your Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to zero - reworking the one you already live in just won’t work.
Click here to read more about our net-zero home project and how you can retrofit your workplace to be more efficient and effective.
Once upon a time (though really not that long ago), MatchPace almost became “The Pareto Group.” We were so inspired by the Pareto Principle that we nearly named our company after it!
I was brainstorming names for the company with my husband, and he said “it’s like the Pareto Principle!”
If you are like me, and not my economically-minded husband, you might be asking “But what is the Pareto Principle?” I was not familiar with Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist Joseph Juran named the Pareto Principle after. But you may have heard of the “80/20 rule.” Back in the late 1800s, Pareto observed that 80 percent of Italy’s land was owned by just 20 percent of the population; he then took the principle a step further, noting that about 20 percent of the peapods in his garden produced 80 percent of the peas.
Read on to learn how you can apply the Pareto Principle so your entire team is efficient and effective.
In the classic film Chariots of Fire, Eric Lidell says “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Too many people dread waking up and heading to work on Monday morning. At MatchPace, we believe work is more than a way to pay the bills - it also gives purpose and meaning to our lives and provides a way to contribute to building a better, healthier society.
Most of us spend thousands of hours at work each year, making our contribution in the marketplace. We can think of these hours as the daily grind, glancing at the clock and counting the days until the weekend. Or, we can view our working hours as a way to contribute to improving the world around us: using ethical business practices, managing well, providing goods and services that improve lives, stewarding our planet’s resources well, furthering justice, and providing for our families and communities. Often, furthering the ability of employees and employers alike to contribute in this way means moving beyond the 9-5 and rethinking the pace at which we work, all while maintaining the highest levels of productivity, quality, and effectiveness.
Work can have purpose, and not be a drag.
Want to know how? Click here to find out!