The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life for all of us. We used to go into the office and use our manager skills to do manager stuff. Now we find ourselves staying at home and participating in countless Zoom meetings. In the beginning it was all new and different and we were able to focus and get work done. However, things have changed over time and now it’s getting harder and harder to stay focused on our work. What’s a manager to do?
The Problem With Focus
Now that many managers are working from home, and may have to keep doing so indefinitely, some are finding it harder to maintain the intense concentration that kicked in during the early days of forced remote work. None of us have any manager training on how to go about doing this. At first, managers were gung ho about working from home, productive in a team-spirit way but also to show they were indispensable in a time when jobs might be more vulnerable. A recent study has shown that 22% of workers had difficulty concentrating back when the pandemic first struck. But as that early rush has worn off, and distractions continue to mount, continuing to stay focused has become more challenging. What managers need are way to boost our focus.
Get In Front Of Your Distractions
Let’s face it, there are a lot of things that are vying for our attention. What managers need to do is to silence news and other alerts on phones and laptops or minimize news alerts to one trusted source.
Learn To Set Boundaries
Since we are all now working from home, that means that we’ve got family members swirling around us all the time. We need to make clear to others in our house when we cannot be disturbed. We need to communicate to those in our family: ‘Look, when I’m here at this desk, at this table, between here and here, it’s a distraction-free zone. You can’t come ask me questions,’ ”. We can go one step further and shut the door to the home office or room to make the Do Not Disturb message even clearer.
Create A Plan For Your Day
Managers need to start the day off by setting down the day’s work goals on paper or in digital notes. We need to block out times with a physical or digital calendar, or in a notebook, to devote to finishing a task. A popular time people use is 25 minutes, but it could be as long as 45 minutes. A short block of time to get a particular task done is great for our brains.
Make Sure To Schedule Breaks
What a lot of managers don’t realize is that taking breaks is actually a way to improve concentration. If managers try to force themselves to stay in focused attention for too long, it simply won’t work. What we need to do is to schedule time to check email, the news or social media, and for breaks with children, loved ones or even to take care of pets.
Your Environment Matters
Managers need to try to make their environment as work-like as possible, including paying attention to ergonomics. We need to try to work from a desk or at a table with a proper chair with back support. Keep in mind that working from a couch can cause back and shoulder strain. Managers must realize that any kind of pain, stiffness or other symptoms is a distraction from being able to perform our work. Sadly we need to avoid working from our bed. We need to only associate our bedroom with sleeping and intimacy, otherwise we can really run into the risk of sleep disruptions which will impact alertness.
What All Of This Means For You
Our world has changed ever since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived. Managers have found themselves working from home and for the foreseeable future, it looks like this is the way that thing will remain. When we first started working at home we were motivated and able to focus. However, over time that has become harder to do. What managers need are ways to once again regain our focus.
The first thing that managers need to do is to understand that there are many different things that can steal our focus away from what we want to doing. We need to take action and silence everything that might end up distracting us. Next, we need to work with the other people in our homes to set boundaries so that we won’t be interrupted while we are working. In order to accomplish things during a day, we need to have a plan for that day. By creating and then working a plan we can stay on track. Nobody is a superman and so we all need to make sure to schedule breaks in our day. Understanding that our environment is a big factor in our ability to concentrate is key to being successful.
The ultimate goal of any manager is to be able to lead a team and be as successful as possible. In order to accomplish this, we need to be able to focus on the work at hand. With the arrival of the pandemic and the changes that have happened in our working environment, keeping this focus is now harder than ever. The good news is that with a little bit of work, we can regain our focus and once again get back to our job of leading our team and making them more productive than ever.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: If your family is being too distracting while you are working at home, what can you do?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As a manager, it turns out that finding ways to get the most out of your team is not the only thing that you have to use your manager skills to do when you are at work. Every day when you go into work you are really riding off to battle. It turns out that your performance is always being measured against the people that you work with. Eventually somebody is going to get promoted, get a raise, or get a bonus. Will it be you or someone else? This is something that none of us have any manager training on how to deal with. Welcome to the real world: your co-worker is your top competitor.