Ways People Pretend to Work
In the wake of Yahoo’s ban on telecommuting and the heated discussion it unleashed, author Carmela Southers says it might be a good time for all of us to refocus on what we do: whether working at home, remotely, or at the office: that looks like work but often isn’t. Southers is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies and has a monthly post on BlanchardLeaderChat.
In a recent post, Southers discussed three ways that people pretend to work:
- Attend meetings. Even though meetings are largely ineffective, attending lots of them keeps you very busy. When you attend lots of meetings your calendar stays full: and yet you accomplish little. This is perhaps the best way to pretend to work without really working, writes Southers.
- Be hyper-responsive on emails and phone calls. Don’t read or think too much about each email, just respond quickly, says Southers. When you keep your email up all day and respond immediately, you can feel a great sense of “pretend” accomplishment. Since sending emails results in receiving more emails, you can honestly say, “I got 150+ emails today. I’m exhausted!”
- Focus on speed and quantity, not quality, of communication. According to Southers, the accepted best practice around emails is this: If the third email hasn’t clarified the issue: pick up the phone. Ignoring this rule means you can have long strings of emails that show activity without really accomplishing work.
Southers offers these tips for being more productive:
- Carefully choose which meetings, and how much of each meeting, you will attend.
- Focus on the quality of your communication, including reflecting or researching before you respond.
- Let people know when you will and won’t be available to respond quickly. Set aside times for focused concentration, professional development, process improvement, and idea generation, and then let others know your priority.
Using these strategies will require less energy, less activity, and fewer emails, writes Southers, resulting in higher productivity. And okay “_ you can still pretend to be tired, even if you’re not!
(Adapted from Souther’s 3/25/13 entry on BlanchardLeaderChat)
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