Collaboration is important for teamwork, however, it is equally as important for people to have uninterrupted focus time to be able to get in the zone and complete assigned tasks. It might not be an obvious connection but not having enough focus time can lead to lower individual productivity and in turn harm your team's overall output.
It is your role as a leader to protect your team’s time when other parts of the business are requesting resources and also support your team to help organize their time effectively.
In this article we will share a few options to help diligently organize time and resources:
- Communication channels
- Calendar blocks
- Individual user manuals
Internal communication channels
If at all possible we recommend leveraging your existing communication channels such as Slack or MS Teams. Most of these tools offer a ‘status’ function which can be an effective way to let people know your availability without needing to speak. Perhaps you could get creative and each individual can pick their own emoji symbolizing do not disturb. 🗓 ❌🧐🎧
In order for this to be effective, it must be clearly communicated amongst your team members. This is a behavioral change so people need time to adapt. Let people know to:
- Keep their status up-to-date
- When looking to collaborate with others, always check their status first before reaching out
- If they are busy leave a message so they can respond when they are next available
If you are physically in the same space you can also get creative with physical signals, such as flags on top of screens or signs on cubicle or office doors alerting others that you are not available.
It is important you lead by example here and do not disturb your team when they have been set to do not disturb.
For some teams or companies, it may be possible to agree on a ‘no meeting’ block. This means during an agreed day and time slot no one is allowed to book a meeting with others and everybody gets focus time.
Tip: By making this the same day and time each week you will create a pattern and encourage a behavioral change.
Failing the option to have a unanimous decision on a regular day/ time, individuals can manage their own weekly schedule by finding pockets of time during the week and blocking it in their diary early on. It is essential that people respect each other's time and do not book over a ‘focus time’ slot. For this to work people should leave time for collaboration as well, meaning they should not block out entire days (unless necessary) leaving them unapproachable.
This may take a little longer to do, however it can establish a strong foundation for teamwork and unlock high-performance.
Everyone in the team should fill out their own ‘user manual’ with the following information:
- Time/ hours I like to work eg: Mornings are focus time, childcare pick up at 3 pm, etc.
- Best ways to communicate with me - this can be different channels for different types of requests eg: Slack for quick questions, email for larger requests, etc.
- Conditions I need for working eg: Quiet space, headphones on means focus time, etc.
- How I like to receive feedback eg: Difficult conversations in person, praise in written format, etc.
- Things I need eg: Reflection time, exercise breaks, etc.
- How I learn best eg: Before a meeting, I like to have context, I’m a visual learner so pictures help, etc.
- Things I struggle with eg: Being introverted I need more time to process on my own, etc.
- Things I love/ things that give me energy eg: Organizing social events such as team drinks, or collaborating with others, etc.
- Other things to know about me eg: I am not expressive which can often be interpreted as being grumpy which is not the case most of the time, etc.
Download a free template >>> here <<<
Once everyone has completed their manuals make some time to share them with each other, ask questions, and get to understand each other better. Be sure to set the stage and remind people to listen respectfully. This doesn’t need to be formal, keeping it fun and lighthearted can create a warm atmosphere.
Ensuring all team members (including yourself) have precious focus time is vital to your team's success and individual growth, making it a high priority. Be sure to share these ideas with your team enabling them to get creative and manage their own time, and continue to protect your team’s resources when needed.