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SETTING BOUNDARIES In today’s work environment, employees face endless distractions – with social media at our fingertips, we Working with roommates and family, our Slack never seems to stop. While each of these distractions can inhibit our ability to get into flow, one is the most insidious (and least mentioned): company-wide information. Before, if we wanted to ask a question or talk to a colleague, we had to knock on the door or schedule a meeting. Now, we can send messages all day long, and many employees feel like they have to be 100% available. Slack, email, and other messaging services are valuable tools, but they can also be methods of procrastination. In order to enable flow, we need to set boundaries around messaging services and communicate to our colleagues when we are in a “do not disturb” state. Whether you’re putting an emoji next to your name and turning off notifications to show you’re doing in-depth work, or talking to your boss about scheduling a time when you won’t be interrupted, we need to find a way to free ourselves from the distractions that come with from constant communication. Companies and leaders can and should encourage this behavior: Take the stress out of employees being available 24/7 and empower them to tune out the noise (without guilt) for deep work for short periods of time each day. RELATED: Here’s How Employers Can Encourage Workplace Productivity
Process needs to be scheduled
While the concept of “process” may feel intangible, there are specific actions we can take to make it happen – i.e. schedule and prepare, prepare ,Prepare. Schedule time on the calendar like weekly meetings for in-depth work, create a to-do list for scheduled times, and have all the materials you need ready in advance. By setting yourself up for success and actively scheduling your time in your calendar, you can free yourself from the stress of superficial work; your colleagues have been alerted and you can trust that this time you will be cleared for deep work work (unless it’s an urgent emergency). Knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prevent distractions allows you to focus on tasks without worry. Also, when we block time early, we reduce the chance of running out of willpower to “convince” ourselves into deep work. No more post-lunch lows or morning jitters—you’ve set your time, prepared accordingly, and ready to get to work. RELATED: This is the only way to really shake the Monday blues
Find your flow
Everyone’s approach to flow will be different. It’s important that we give ourselves the opportunity to experiment with the environment that best puts us in a state of flow. My team is currently working with our employees to facilitate this experiment and help them find their own unique deep work environment. From figuring out how to set up your environment in the way that works best for you, knowing what you have to do to prepare to get into flow, and finally documenting what works best for you when you reach a zen state – we’re trying to break down the science of finding flow . What type of environment, preparation, and documentation do you need to consistently get into the process? It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach – what works for your colleagues may not work for you. But once you figure it out, whether it’s buying a new office chair, turning off notifications, or lighting a candle, you’ll be surprised how quickly those 90 minutes go by. Related: How to Use Processes to Make You More Efficient
Take the red pill
In deep work , Cal Newport argues that if we are in Spend enough time in a frenzied superficial state, and we permanently reduce our ability to do deep work. The internet and social media have shortened our attention span and our attention span is getting smaller every day. We have to ask – are we willing to accept that this is our permanent reality? We can find more fun at work and be more valuable employees, but only if we commit to creating an encouraging Deep working environment every day . Don’t be tempted by the blue pill and the status quo – take the red pill, find your flow, and watch yourself flourish.