How to Avoid Being Busy at Work & Find Your Focus?

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

As a knowledge worker in a hybrid work environment, it is at times difficult to even find time in our calendar for ourselves.

By doing the following 6 things, however, we can operate at our 100% efficiency without being busy doing things which will not move any needle at our job.

Operate in your circle of competence

Circle of Competence is a mental model that was introduced by Warren Buffett and Charles Munger in relation to investing. The premise of this model or framework is deceptively simple but profound.

Everyone has an area or areas in which they truly know their stuff, they are expert at. That is their area of special competence. Areas not inside that circle are problematic because not only are we ignorant about them, but we may also be ignorant of our own ignorance. In short, they are our unknown unknown weaknesses. Thus, when we’re making decisions, it becomes important to define and attend to our special circle, so as to act accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that all our lives we have to play the same game. It simply means, that we need to be self aware and work on expanding our circle before operating outside it.

If you want to improve your odds of success in life and business, then define the perimeter of your circle of competence, and operate inside. Over time, work to expand that circle but never fool yourself about where it stands today, and never be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

Learn the Art of Saying No

The art of saying no is saying yes slowly, very slowly — Very Very Slowly. It is to learn to say No more often. It is to say it politely and while not using the word “NO”. Instead, say “Yes and let me get back to you” or ask the following questions this way

It’s not the “NO” that hurts people. It’s the way we say it.

Manage your meetings & time

  • Overindex 1–1s & Underindex meetings with participants > 5
  • Invert the above mental model if you work hybrid or remote
  • Before you schedule a group meeting, see if the topic can be resolved in group slack or group email
  • Bunch all your meetings with people into specific days during the week. Keep remaining days completely clear. If that is not doable, find at least half a day to process documents/projects/thinking solo
  • Batch your meetings during the day
  • Use Clockwise to block your Focus Time automagically.
  • Batch your Slack/Microsoft Teams/Email responses and notifications. Treat them as an async tool, not an instant messenger.
  • Delegate things where you can’t add any value. People closest to the problems will always add more value. Teach them to think rationally to get the most out of a problem.

Hard Prioritise & Do Only Highest Leverage Activity:

Ask yourself the following questions while planning a task or an initiative:

  • How would someone successful complete this goal?
  • How would you feel if you don’t do the required task?
  • What is the next immediate step you need to do?
  • If you could do one thing to achieve the goal on time, what would it be?

And then do only that One Thing!

“We are not paid to be busy. We are paid to deliver outcomes.”

Automate Decision Making

We need to automate Decision Making. Deploy the following Mental Models to make effective decisions daily, to automate them. This help frees up the brain for more cognitive heavy work and new scenarios:

Plan & Prepare to execute at your 100%

  • Prepare for the upcoming week on Sunday
  • Prepare for the next day before your end for the day
  • If you have to end the day at 5:30 pm, the next day, plan your day backwards
  • Plan your downtimes: Downtimes are the times when you are not firing from all cylinders. When your mind needs to think and not work frantically. No one knows you better than you and your body. Then why don’t you have your downtimes already blocked in your calendar?
  • Plan your lunch: Book it in your calendar. Go, have lunch away from your phone and laptop. You need it to deliver your best.

Don’t

  • Don’t use personal tools like WhatsApp in the office or during office times. Use Focus or DND Mode on the phone to stay on course.

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Helping build Perkbox. Writes about Leadership, Startups, Product & People management. I blog to think.

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Ankur Sharma

Ankur Sharma

Helping build Perkbox. Writes about Leadership, Startups, Product & People management. I blog to think.

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