Take Your Time And Productivity Will Follow

Tímea Csízik
Coach | OD Consultant | Developer | HR Professional
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You have a tough day, tightly scheduled. You are rushing from one meeting to another all day long. You have dozens of important discussions, you gather tons of information and fill up your to do list with hundreds of new tasks.

Familiar, isn’t it?

Now, imagine that you decided to go for your regular run before you meet your friends in a restaurant in the evening. You do not have much time, but you squeeze in running, because you need a little time off. You enjoy the run, so you chose a longer track. By the time you get home you realize that you are almost late. That’s obvious you need a shower before you change. But there’s no time for everything. So you take a shower dressed.

That’s crazy, right?

To tell the truth, I think the two situations above are exactly the same.

We are running from one meeting to another chasing effectiveness and we skip one important crucial step. Taking a shower before entering the restaurant.

I mean, we skip the step of TUNING IN.

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Tuning in vs. stealing time

Tuning in means that we dedicate some time to connect with the upcoming event (e.g. meeting, discussion, speech, training etc.) either by thinking ahead, preparing or just get ourselves mentally ready for something new.

“How can I have time for tuning in between meetings when I have to steal time for even having a glass of water?” you can ask.

And you are right. Till we reframe our own control over time when working. It is OUR decision whether we make time for something or somebody or not. And this decision only depends on ROI, the expected or experienced result of our invested time compared to its expected or experienced cost.

If your daughter is taking an important entrance exam in the morning I’m sure you will make time during your busy day to give her a few minutes call to get to know how she succeeded, right?

ROI of Tuning in = Focus = Productivity

So, what can be the ROI of tuning in? It is that by tuning in…

…our focus becomes clearer,

…our mind gets ready for new information

…our spirit gets oriented to solutions and proactive actions (instead of problems and excuses).

As a result we keep the meetings and discussions shorter and provide them to be more effective resulting in concrete outcomes.

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How can I make it happen?

1. Take a few-minute attuning walk till you get there

It’s enough to have a few minutes when you can focus on the next event. You can do it while you’re walking to the meeting room, or you can go out to the yard or street, if you have the chance, to gather and organize your thoughts.

Answering these questions may help you prepare:

What are my goals and interests in this topic? What do I want?

What is the ideal outcome of this meeting?

What should happen there to make me satisfied after the meeting?

What can I do to approach or get one step closer to this outcome?

What different perspectives others might have? What could they want?

What can I do to integrate these different perspectives?

While you answer these items you get clear about your focus, you may identify further questions you want to ask on the meeting, and get in the mood for proactive discussion and co-creation.

2. Help others to arrive too

It is more effective if you are not the only one in the team who are focused on the topic. I guess you have already experienced that others in your organization suffer from the same ‘showering while dressed’ situation.

When you get the feeling that they are here physically but somewhere else in their thoughts, help them arrive mentally too.

Suggest a few minutes of silence to help the team focus and organize their thoughts.

You can even do it together with some guiding questions above. They may look at you strange at first, but I’m sure they will be grateful at the end.

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3. Finish 5 minutes earlier and close it down with satisfaction

Sometimes the only thing that hinders us to tune in to the next meeting is that we are still attending the ‘previous’ one (being already late). Let’s finish our meetings 5 minutes earlier, and leave those minutes for reflection for everybody.

Meetings can run endlessly in organizations, especially when we don’t have sharp goals and focus. That’s why it’s worth driving the conversation and keeping it on track to talk only about the relevant topics that lead us towards the goal of the meeting.

There’s a chance we don’t reach all our goals in the defined time frame. But if we do it right, we can probably find a milestone we can be satisfied with and we can close down the topic there till the next gathering. It requires self-discipline to end a meeting even if not all our goals are reached.

However, letting a meeting last longer than planned endangers all our other scheduled programs starting on time and prevents them to be effective.

It’s a domino effect that can ruin the efficiency of our whole day.

By finishing the meeting 5 minutes earlier

we provide ourselves time for closing down the topic in our mind,

we can also use this time for letting our emotions get back to a steady, calm and open stage,

we can do some short actions to bring forward the content of the meeting (e.g. jot down important tasks, share information with somebody who hasn’t attended but needs to know),

and last, but not least we can tune in to the next event.

Keep in mind that it is our common decision when to end a meeting. Our colleagues will be grateful for our initiation to finish the meeting 5 minutes earlier and they can use this time to support their needs and productivity, especially when we inform them in advance. Finally, we can make a habit of it. It is not a law of nature that a meeting has to end at :00 or :30.

Try changing these numbers to :50 and :20, keep the time frame strictly, use the 5-10 minutes you gained wisely and enjoy the consequences.

Conclusion

Don’t skip taking a shower. I mean, don’t skip tuning in.

Be effective by tuning in, not by skipping it.

Tuning in and mindfully preparing for the next event, or even stop for some minutes does not mean that we start to live in a hippie slow ‘whatever’ style. It only makes us possible to sharpen our focus and direct our energy towards solutions.

Finally, we will be more satisfied not just with the results we achieved, but the way we did it.

However, don’t forget to give yourself some time for focusless zoning out as well, when creative insights may happen. These two thing does not exclude each other, as we are going to discuss it in another article soon…

Challenge for the week

Now, it’s your turn to experiment with giving yourself time to arrive mentally as well to upcoming situations. Do this experiment at least for a week and see what has changed in your life?

Try it both in business context and in your personal life too.

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