Stay focus and 'No bother' policy

Concentration is the root of all higher abilities in man.

We give a lot of importance to "work-life" balance and we make sure those are not only words told in some nice speeches. This page will describe why strict "no bothering" policies are important for better productivity and for fostering a better work-life balance. This page will also include some of the policies in place to help stick to this fundamental balance.

Life is full of distractions and work is no exception. With emails, IM tools, meetings, etc. it can be really challenging to focus for a significant period of time. Many studies have revealed that "Distracted workers are less productive". When you’re focused on one task at a time, you’ll make strides to achieve your goals and complete priority tasks at a quicker rate. Instead of getting lost in a sea of unimportant tasks, you can build habits that allow you to move the needle on your most important projects.

What if we told you that it’s actually regular distractions that are holding you back from achieving your most idealistic goals? It’s easy to feel jaded at work when you’re constantly jumping from one task to another. How will you ever create the momentum required to achieve your objectives if you can’t get ahead? If you consistently feel like your daily tasks are forcing you to put long-term objectives on the backburner, multitasking could be your kryptonite. The best way to build momentum is by working on your priority tasks now, and scheduling time for less urgent work later in the day.

If you get the work you hoped to complete finished within your work hours, you shouldn’t feel guilty about unwinding at the end of a long day. Having to stay late or bring work home is a recipe for an unhealthy work-life balance. Foster a better relationship with your work by achieving deep focus during your workday. Nothing feels quite as good as leaving work in your office space knowing that you achieved what you had planned. Spend less time stressing after work and more time making memories with your loved ones and doing the things you enjoy.

9 ways to stay focused at work

  1. Choose a quiet work environment: this is why we are quite flexible with our "Remote work" policy. You should be working where you feel most comfortable. If you are at a customer, you should ask for a quiet place.

  2. Keep an organized workspace: Physical clutter can lead to mental clutter. If your desk is piled with old bills, newspapers, random office supplies, or sticky notes filled with non-urgent reminders, it’s time to tidy your workspace. Having an organized space will help you clear any brain fog caused by an over-stimulating environment. If there’s too much visual stimuli, it will be difficult for you to feel inspired when completing creative work!

  3. Avoid procrastination: Get the task you’re looking forward to the least finished first. When you submit that proposal, make that cold call, or edit that document you normally would have procrastinated as your first task, you win the day! We know it’s easier said than done. Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past and let go of guilt for good. Do so by breaking down the project into smaller steps, or by setting a timer for 10 minutes and forcing yourself to begin the work. Oftentimes, you’ll notice that the hardest part of the task was getting started in the first place.

  4. Limit distractions: Put your phone in your desk drawer, mute those email notifications, and find a quiet space where you can stay on-task. By removing things in your surroundings that cause interruptions, you’ll have a better chance at staying focused throughout the day. If you work in close proximity to your colleagues (or a family member in your at-home work space), let them know at what points in the day they can come to chat or ask you questions. If you want to concentrate, you’ll need an environment that works for you.

  5. Plan your week: Take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out your tasks, meetings, and any other important items you need to prioritize. Ask yourself what you’d like to accomplish each day and list the steps you’ll need to complete to achieve each short-term objective. Be realistic with your time and don’t overcommit. If you need some extra help, Use Fellow’s weekly planner template to visualize your action items, effectively manage your time, and help knock important items off your to-do list.

  6. Take multiple short breaks: Have you ever felt so frustrated with work that you’ve allowed yourself an hour of mindless scrolling on social media? Us too. Rather than taking one long break, schedule multiple short ones throughout the day to give your mind a chance to recharge. If you’re stuck on a task, stretching your body, going for a quick walk, or having a brief conversation with a colleague can provide you with the momentum you need to get the job done.

  7. Train your mind: Less daydreaming, more mindfulness. Mindfulness tools including yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation will greatly improve your ability to focus by helping you relax your body, reduce stress, and build cognitive skills at work. Cognitive skills are the ways your body conducts a variety of functions, including: problem solving, reasoning, learning new skills, and processing information. Train your brain to be present and you’ll be completing tasks more quickly and with greater accuracy in no time.

  8. Time block: Time block by organizing your daily calendar into blocks of time designated for specific tasks and different types of work. Rather than checking your email inbox throughout the day, set aside an hour or more at the beginning or end of the day to work through tasks that can be completed in under five minutes. By scheduling reactive and deep work, you’ll gain control over your day, know what to prioritize, and feel more accomplished when you complete a project.

  9. Focus on one task at a time: Context switching is when you constantly shift your attention from one task to another, and it is the enemy of concentration. In the modern workplace, multitasking pulls our focus from the task at hand and makes us less productive overall. Aim to complete one task at a time before moving onto something else. Turn off bothersome notifications, only keep one tab open at a time on your browser, and schedule time in your calendar for deep, reactive work. Adopting this habit will require some serious discipline at the beginning, but you’ll soon notice that you’re able to accomplish more in less time, with less stress !

Some of our policies at Astrafy to stay focus and enjoy a good work-life balance

  1. Strict schedules:

    • Between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm on weekdays (i.e. normal schedule): all good to send messages, emails and schedule meetings but by respecting best-practices (see point 3 and 4).

    • Outside 8.00 am and 6.00 pm on weekdays (i.e. emergency schedule): emergencies that cannot wait. Those should be justified with a one-liner at the top of your email or message.

    • Weekends and public holidays (i.e. toxic schedule): No messages whatsoever and no exceptions.

  2. Schedule messages and emails: When outside normal schedule (i.e. in the emergency or toxic schedules described above), you can prepare emails and messages and schedule those via built-in features in Gmail and Slack.

  3. Strict chatting rules: we have documented some best-practices for chatting. You can find those there.

  4. Strict meeting rules: we have documented some best-practices for meetings. You can find those there.

  5. No hypocrisy: Do not preach talks/messages such as

    • "Sorry for sending you an email outside of working hours and I don't expect you to answer immediately" . Just schedule your emails or message to arrive during normal schedule.

    • "Sorry to bother you": if you are sending a message, you are already bothering the person as he/she might have received a notification and had to leave his/her focus work to answer you. We are all about helping but we are all also about efficiency so our messages need to be straightforward to be efficient; just ask straight what you need/want.

    • "Just a quick one": If it's a really a something quick and easy, make sure the information is not available on Gitbook, Personio or Avaza. If not, check if you have a meeting with that person later in the day and maybe it can wait for that meeting to ask this quick question. If not, then just ask your questions straight.

  6. Morning or afternoon blockers: As developers and consultants, our added-value comes when we get things done. And to get things done we need long periods of focus time. For this reason, on each single day, you can only have meetings either in the afternoon or in the morning. Or in other words, you should have every day a blocker with no meetings either from 8.00 am to noon or from from 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm.

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