Why you should drastically reduce your availability!
1st published in “The Monthly Archiitect“ where we aim to make it easier for you to work smarter and move forward! Every 1st Monday. Every Month. Right to your email inbox.
How to actually create value during the day?
Lately, I stumbled upon a Facebook post of the architecture practice KSG Architects from Cologne, Germany which stated, that the firm stopped phone calls and emails before 11:30 am to ensure a time where employees can get meaningful and concentrated work done. During this time, emails will not be delivered to employees and phone calls will be directed to the central secretary. The practice aims to create a space within the day, where people can focus profoundly and without any distraction on the work at hand.
The simple formula:
Shut out distraction in the morning to spend fresh energy on relevant things, anything else follows afterward.
Johannes Kister, owner of KSG Architects said in the post: “We have drastically reduced our availability to be able to concentrate on our projects in a focused and undisturbed way. Planning requires a period of concentrated immersion, and that’s more than five minutes until the next interruption.”
A revolutionary approach
This statement resonated with me strongly and impressed me at the same time. It is a revolutionary and bold decision to give employees a space wherein they can just focus on their work by implementing an overall office policy.
However, it seems obvious. Johannes Kisters mentions further that “if there is not enough time for the design and detailed planning until the evening or the weekend, the health of the employees and, as a consequence, the profitability of the office are endangered.”
It is absolutely reasonable that an architecture office and any kind of entrepreneurial undertaking has to be cautious when it comes to the economic output, employee health and the creation of value as the heart of a business.
Just recently I read the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport which opened my eyes to the dramatic impact that all the daily distractions have on our ability to focus. The creation of value just doesn’t happen in between distractions.
In his book, Cal Newport gives answers to the question of how can you be able to create valuable work in a totally distracted world? How can you make sure, that you do not drift away into shallow work and distraction and find yourself at the end of a workday without having achieved any notable results?
Our generation is experiencing an interconnectedness with people and media, on a level that has never been seen before in human history. We are all faced with constant information overload. Social Media is everywhere around us, large open office spaces are on the rise, and all that is changing the way we work and ultimately affects our ability to work deeply and focused, and eventually to produce real results.
Deep Work is in this context defined as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task, and…
… it is one of the most valuable skills in our modern economy since it is becoming increasingly rare.
At the end of the day, there is a simple formula: Shut out any distraction and focus on the task at hand and only on that task.
Does this seem familiar?
It is so easy to spend half a day into shallow work, browsing through emails, doing something here and there, making a phone call, having a chat.
Uninterrupted availability and short reaction times have also reached the desk of architects within the digital transformation.
The question of how to get meaningful work done is a serious one. The temptations are everywhere around us. Email, Social Media, Instant Messaging, News, Push Notifications, open offices. Our modern tools have changed the world to the better and made work much smarter. However, the magic lies in the way we utilize those tools.
Like everything in life, too much of any is usually not very beneficial.
Shiny new object syndrome and digital detox
People are just drawn to everything that is new and tend to overuse it heavily. It happened to television, email, Facebook, smartphone use, messenger apps… the list goes on.
First, you are attached to the new thing and use it intensely. Like everyone has done with Facebook, Twitter and smartphone usage in general. Eventually, you find out, that it starts to hurt more than it does well because it is shifting your attention away from the important things in life.
People started to go on digital detox retreats. Twitter was sending its employees to nature camps where they had to hand out everything that looks like an electrical device. Then, they started to collect wood by hand and would sit around a campfire.
The key learning is, that one shouldn’t fall from one extreme into another. Instead, apply technology where it helps and shut it out where it harms. All the tools we are able to use today are amazing, but we need to find the right behavioral patterns to seize those benefits and not let them turn against us.
This is why the decision of KSG Architects impressed me so much. They understood that in order to be able to create meaningful work, people need to focus. Ultimately, it’s about the quality of architecture, KSG Architects state in their post.
Whether you are a student, an employee, the owner of a firm or any human being who is trying to accomplish something in life – working deep is a highly relevant skill that needs to be retrained.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Make focused work a habit, not an exception.
Have a great week everyone!
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