Recently I was at a surprise retirement party for a colleague. After we all yelled "surprise!" and the battle to keep the tears from falling was well underway, I settled into a conversation with a new member of our organization about the nature of work.
Our talk ran the gamut of shared experiences in cities we had both worked and/or lived in. But then quickly moved to how we get work done, and how the world of work has changed in such a way that being at work actually limits our ability to accomplish our work.
We both realized that the physical act of being in our workplace, more often than not, limits our ability to truly be productive. This got me thinking about all sorts of issues:
- Why I spend so much time at work if I know I could use some of that time differently and be much more productive?;
- Why corporate culture equates long hours sitting in a room in a building (my office), with being a great leader and dedicated employee?
- Why I haven't been more assertive in taking charge of this (despite encouraging my team to spend time away from the office getting their work done!)?
Coffee, Wifi, and Solitude
As our conversation went a bit deeper I tried to remember what I would consider my most productive day ever. It didn't take long. I was in Baltimore on business, but my schedule was a bit odd. I had a Tuesday evening meeting, and then no formal commitments until Thursday.
Oh the guilt! I certainly couldn't fly back to Florida for one day, so I realized I needed to get myself organized to try to make the most out of an "open" day in between my scheduled meetings.
...and it was the most productive day of my life...
Enter The Daily Grind along Baltimore's waterfront. A terrific coffee shop that has good wifi and plenty of seating. I know what you're thinking..."Jay, have you ever heard of Starbucks?"
The real issue here is that during my six hours of uninterrupted, focused time I accomplished more than I have on any other day in my work history.
The real issue here is that I didn't seize the moment and build a completely different approach to my work, despite knowing this made sense for me.
The real issue here is that I quickly fell back into the trap that long hours in a room filled with interruptions equals good leadership.
How About You
Do you know something makes perfect sense but the pressure around you in the workplace is holding you back from taking action? Why do we continue to do that to ourselves and our teams? Maybe we're the generation of leaders that will finally break the pre-technology notion that sitting in meeting rooms all day is the best way to get things done?
I'd love to hear from you.