Brain Training for Managers
In today’s business environment, your colleagues may brag that they work just fine in a multitasking environment. In truth, the quality of anyone’s work after a multitasking session probably needs a serious review. How can managers accomplish more in a workplace filled with distractions and multiple demands on their time?
As a manager or team leader, you may face big challenges when it comes to getting work done. You want to do a good job on the big report that’s due next week. You also want to maintain an open-door policy, to welcome employees who need to talk. Gwen Moran has a few suggestions on how to balance everything that must be done.
The To-Do List
Like most managers, you probably have a long to-do list. Items destined for that list can creep into your conscious thoughts at any time – while you’re working out, driving or sitting in someone else’s meeting. Keep your smartphone or another device handy, and put the item on your list. If you maintain a list for each team member, put the item on the correct list. Now you know you'll bring up the matter with the right person. Developing this habit will clear your mind and allow you to focus on more pressing problems.
Committed Work Times
We all have projects or tasks that require periods of intense concentration. If you reserve a specific time slot for completing the task – such as writing your weekly progress report or updating the budget with the latest revenue and expense numbers – you’ll finish it faster, and with fewer errors. Select a time period when you’re likely to have few interruptions, perhaps first thing in the morning. Turn off email and snooze your office and personal IM and social media accounts. If you don’t have a door to close, put on headphones so co-workers know you're busy. Mark your calendar with a Private Appointment and then get to work. Allow yourself to start and finish the project in the allotted time. You’ll be astonished at the improvement in your productivity.
Here’s the dirty little secret about today’s tech trend. Many of us are struggling with an attention span that’s being trained to take in small bits and pieces of information, and we're accustomed to jumping from one content stream to another. If a webpage doesn't load quickly enough, we're on to the next thing within 15 seconds. When it’s time to produce content, a 10-minute work session can seem like an eternity. To remedy this feeling, Moran points to Daniel Levitin’s work in this area. A psychology professor at Montreal’s McGill University, Levitin encourages people to steadily lengthen their content production sessions until they can comfortably work for 60 or 90 minutes. Work sessions which last that long can bring about significant progress toward completing challenging tasks.
If you're having trouble completing all the items on your to-do list, give Moran's suggestions a try. Retraining your brain to focus on tasks for just a little longer can make a huge difference in your output and may help you feel more positive about how you are managing your group.