Deep work and how to shield yourself from distraction

Today’s business world is a loud world. Information and knowledge workers spend most of their time in open office spaces. E-mail and Social Media Messages chase people across all digital devices 24/7. Attention is switched between subjects so quickly, that the mind can barely keep up. This article is about the need to find a way out of this state of constant distraction and into what Cal Newport calls “Deep Work, (the) professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to the limit.”

shield yourself from distraction

The new world of information work

After years of optimising production and manufacturing with concepts like Kaizen, the focus has changed to the productivity of the knowledge worker. Inspired by the spirit of the New Economy  companies introduced open office space concepts in an attempt to resolve boxed thinking and “sitting”. Almost simultaneously the world of business software picked up on the newly introduced social media and networking concepts. A billion people on Facebook had to be an indicator that people loved being connected in the digital world. But e-mail had already become the every day, and sometimes all night, companion of the employee who wants to show dedication and climb the career ladder as quickly as possible. Being “present” on the other end of the digital line – irrespective of personal situation or time of day – was turned into an implicit requirement for the ambitious. The new social messaging, chat feed and collaboration channels now add to the already constantly humming e-mail box and have begun to chase people with additional notifications across all devices.

Nowadays, the walls of time zones, offices and hierarchies have been (almost) broken down. Combined with a 24/7 exchange and information flow, the knowledge worker is facing a completely new challenge: a million voices that want an answer – ideally a quick one.

The inbox dictates every day’s agenda

Mobile e-mail, social-style communications and ever present wireless internet have changed expectations for turnaround times. “Immediate” is the new “well informed”. Too often it’s not about substance anymore but the availability of an answer in almost real time. Inboxes dictate the day’s agenda across all devices and because there is more than one person waiting for an answer, actual “work time” gets pushed back…and back…and back.

The information worker is conditioned to an unhealthy multi tasking mode in order to even stay somewhat afloat in the avalanche of requests and digital distractions. The Bryan College has published an impressive info graphic on the annual loss of productivity (est. US$ 450bn globally) because, based on their research, millenials switch their focus 27 (twentyseven!!) times an hour.

Source: Bryan College – Millennials Multitasking in the Workplace

How to shield yourself from distraction?

Self organisation and discipline sounds like the lame advice that parents gave when school got tough. “You just need to be a bit more organised and ignore all the distractions”.

If you listen to people like Jeff Bezos or Ashton Kutcher, it doesn’t seem so far off the actual solution to the problem, though. In an interview with TechCrunch Bezos said: “(…) I like to be doing whatever I’m doing. I don’t like to multi-task. If I’m reading my email I want to be reading my email (…) I multi-task serially.” Ashton Kutcher, a serious business investor for those who only know him as a goofy guy from television, revealed his simple secret to getting ahead of work at an AirBnB Spotlight event: “When I wake up…I spend the first hour of my work not looking at email, and actually just writing out what it is that I want to accomplish in a given day. And then before I go through my emails, I’ll do all my outgoing, outbound stuff, which is what I want everyone else to do for me. And then I’ll go and get reactive to whatever’s going on.”

“Yes, but I am neither a billionaire nor a TV star. I have to do what people ask me to do,” is what you’re probably thinking right now. However, if you take a step back it’s not about “full control”. It’s about taking the amount of control that it necessary to get things done. According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, this won’t be for more than 4 hours of the day, even for the really advanced.

Turn off the voices & temptations and take control over your work

Cal Newport believes that 2 hours of Deep Work, the state of mind in which substantial value creation happens, is realistic for the average Joe. For those two hours it’s about stepping away from all the channels that scream for your attention and from all the notifications, likes & shares, that want to reward you for the small contributions that you have made to the digital world.

Then it’s about being in control of the personal agenda:

  • What do I have to do?
  • When do things have to be done?
  • Where is the information I need, to make well informed decisions?

The more organised the personal workspace or better still, work eco system is, the easier to retain the overview and have all the pieces at hand to solve the puzzle. Two hours of focussed, undistracted work in an organised world can be an eternity. Compared to the 27 attention fractions, that are cramped into a colleague’s hour, it’s productivity on steroids.

Fleep wants to help enable Deep Work experiences

Besides the discipline to “take time out” from the voices and distractions, at Fleep we believe that Deep Work requires a new place to organise communication around knowledge work. The inbox has reached its limit. Conversations and facts get distributed and disconnected in e-mail threads. Action items get lost in digital ping pong. Enter Fleep, a place where all your digital conversations take place, in one place.

We have consciously decided not to hound our users with notifications and bouncing icons in task-bars by default. We want our users to decide for themselves how notifications appear. Or the frequency in which e-mail reminders are sent.  Or even when others see whether their message has been read or not. We want you to shield yourself from distraction.
Fleep is built to radically improve the way people work alone and together on projects. And this irrespective of whether they are all Fleep users or engaged in conversations with others via e-mail. With this confidence, users can visit the conversation they want to focus on in the moment when they want to focus on it – and they are always in charge. Always.

Fleep focusses heavily on making digital communication a pleasant experience again. But we have gone even further, in Fleep you’ll find baked-in light weight collaboration features like assignable task lists or pinned messages (aka reminders) within conversations, primarily for those users who aren’t using suites like Trello or Asana.

Shield yourself from distraction and try the Deep Work experience!

Sign up for Fleep today. It’s free. It’s addictive. It can become your one single hub for private and business conversations thanks to it’s open network and inter-operability with E-mail.

Yes, let me try Deep Work mode!

Manage Business Conversations with Fleep.

Get your team ready for Deep Work. Put the power over their attention span back in their hands. At the same time Fleep for Business offers full control over access & user accounts through extended administration features. So you and your team can enjoy the full Fleep experience plus the admin rights you need for a business environment​​​​​​​.

My Team deserves the Deep Work experience. Sign me up!

 

About the author

philipp

Philipp is a  business coach and consultant who helps teams to find the “True North” for their digitalisation programs & projects. He works with structured discovery, design methods & engaging workshops, drawing on his cross-industry experience in internal & external digitalisation along the way. Find him on digital-sherpa.me and Twitter!

10 Helpful Tools That Can Make Your Remote Team Work Faster

Remote work has become the most influential trend on the labor market in the last few years. It enables employers to cut the logistics costs, while employees have the opportunity to achieve a work-life balance and avoid commuting. This is why freelance economy grew to 55 million Americans last year, which is more than a third of total U.S. workforce. It’s also why it’s important to pay attention to tools that can make your remote team work faster.

Make Your Remote Team Work Faster

Hiring a group of remote workers doesn’t guarantee success because you still need to establish the right kind of company culture and utilize a set of digital tools to make your business profitable. In this article, let’s take a look at 10 helpful tools that can make your remote team work faster.

Best tools to make your remote team work faster

The Internet is full of useful collaboration tools, so it’s rather difficult to choose only 10 items. But after a couple of weeks of weighing pros and cons, I picked two tools in each of the five different categories.

Tasks

Remote teams demand extra attention to task management and can use tools like Trello, Worksection, or Fleep to set, monitor and control tasks completion process.

  • Trello

Trello, the card-based project management software, is perfect for teams of all sizes which conduct multiple tasks simultaneously. Each task is presented on the dashboard and everyone can see how it progresses. Besides that, team members can add comments, checklists, and due dates. Although it offers a lot of collaboration functions, Trello is simple to understand and use. It doesn’t come for free but the prices are reasonable – around $12 per user per month.

  • Worksection

Worksection has only one purpose and it’s to make your business easier. It splits projects into stages, tasks, and subtasks. Using its timeline visualization, you can never forget due dates. Its user interface is friendly and simple, allowing you to see all details at a glance. This tool is perfect for large units with dozens or even hundreds of remote workers involved in the everyday business. The price depends on the features you choose such as the number of users or projects and file storage capacity.

  • Fleep Tasks

Fleep Tasks offer lightweight task management planted natively in the chat for teams. While they are not as complex and feature-rich as Trello or Worksection, Fleep Tasks definitely have the benefit of context – of being able to discuss and refer back to the discussions and decisions made regarding the tasks, right in the same chat app. Additionally, the main functionality is available to use for completely free – with Fleep for Business offering admin controls for those who need them.

Productivity

Some employers don’t like remote workers because of their low productivity but you can avoid this issue using Pomodoro or Forest.

  • Forest

Forest is an alternative method to save your time and use it productively. It enables you to stay focused on work planting a digital tree. As long as you keep working, the plant will continue to grow and become a beautiful tree. But as soon as you open one of the websites from your blacklist – Facebook or Reddit, for instance – the tree will wither away. The app is cost-free.

  • Pomodoro

Pomodoro helps users to improve time management. It’s a great app which integrates with other software products that you use and allows you to handle tasks in a timely manner.

Time control

This is a key element in each business, especially when making payments. Toggl and RescueTime will give you a hand with this feature.

  • Toggl

Toggl is an online time-tracking app which follows and analyzes time entries to determine the productivity of each remote employee. It monitors all activities in real-time through the cloud service and reports about the efficiency of any given project. It detects where you lose most of the time and suggests what it is that you can change to become more productive. You can use the starter pack, enterprise solution, or a premium member option.

  • RescueTime

RescueTime follows and analyzes your daily habits to see how you spend your time online. It runs in the background of your IT gadgets and gives you a precise overview of activities each day and you can set it to remind you of certain tasks. The best thing about RescueTime is that it sends you a notification when you surpass a daily usage limit, for instance on Facebook. You can take a free 14-day trial before switching to the premium version. Or you can simply use RescueTime Lite for free.

File exchange

A convenient and fast file exchange is extremely important for remote teams, which is why they use Google Drive and Dropbox.

  • Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most popular online collaboration tools worldwide, so we really think it doesn’t need a big introduction. To put it simply, Google Drive changed the way professionals in all industries share and exchange ideas, files, and documents. It allows individual users up to 15 GB of free file storage.

  • Dropbox

Dropbox is another world-known remote work service. This cloud-storage provider gathers more than 500 million registered users globally thanks to the effective file sharing solutions. All your documents are stored centrally and you can find them without problems using anyone of your electronic devices anytime you need them. It is free for freelancers and individual users but you can also try Dropbox Business free of charge.

Editing

Serious businesses demand precise and serious writing skills.

  • Bestessays.com.au

Bestessays.com.au is a highly professional editing service. Bearing in mind that most of the remote teams don’t include expert editors, it is essential to keep your official documents error free. This is especially important when it comes to public files, company presentations, and client proposals. Bestessays.com.au can help you with all sorts of tasks: from case studies and research proposals to speeches and PowerPoint presentations. Their prices differ based on the type of work, timing, and the level of quality that you demand.

  • Professional Editing Services

Professional Editing Services is one of the best agencies in the field when you demand value for money. Their turnaround times are excellent while the price is just $0.032 per word. You won’t be charged for document revision if it’s the writer’s mistake. There is a 25% price increase in case you demand a specific styling work – but it’s definitely worth it.

Conclusion

The market is full of good tools – and the tools highlighted in this blog post are the ones that came in most handy for me. These tools can really make your remote team work faster.

Zake AlfieZake Alfie is an SEO blogger and search engine optimization expert. He is in charge of several online projects and provides consultations on optimization and website promotion. He loves experimenting and finding new SEO tactics. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter!

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