How to build a deep work routine for a team and separate it from context switching and multitasking?
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How to build a deep work routine for a team and separate it from context switching and multitasking?

Are you aware of the detrimental effect that context switching has on productivity? According to Gerard Wineberg, jumping between tasks can lower our productivity by as much as 80%. What’s more, each simultaneously performed task takes up another 20% of our productivity power. If we want to work effectively, it’s vital to set aside enough time for deep work, and focus on one task instead of many. 

In today’s article, I am going to discuss how to build deep work routines for teams and stop context switching. 

How to build a deep work routine for a team and separate it from context switching and multitasking?

4 Tips to creating routines for deep work for teams

#1: Set up deep work and context switching time as daily routines 

It’s common to see teams having collaboration routines; meeting once a week (weekly) and once a day (daily) to quickly discuss what everyone is up to and what work progress has been made. The same practice can be applied to deep work and multitasking – it’s about blocking enough time for uninterrupted work. You might be wondering “how much time is enough”? It’s recommended to set aside at least 2 hours a day for deep work and spend no longer than 1.5 hours on context switching. For instance, 1 hour in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day. 

To achieve balance between focus work and multitasking and to create routines, simply block some time in your calendar, and during your deep work time reject any invitations to meetings or chat.

#2: Group tasks and decide if they need deep work time, or if context switching time works OK

As part of your context switching time, start your day by planning your own work. Group your tasks, and those which you consider challenging assign to your deep work time. The remaining ones you can label as good for content switching. Aim at spending at least 2 hours on deep work, and no more than 1.5 hours on context switching (it can be less). I know that for some of you it might be difficult to achieve, however, these 2 hours can make a huge difference to your work effectiveness. 

#3:  Learn how to focus during deep work time, eliminate distractions and interruptions 

It’s vital to learn how to stay focused and to be disciplined. Only plan your work when you have Internet access and try to make offline mode your default one. If you struggle, then consider using apps like Freedom or Self Control that will enable you to get Internet access only at set intervals. Additionally, make sure to:

  • Block time for emails, instead of answering them as they come 
  • If it’s deep work time then resist the temptation to switch between tasks
  • Even when you work from home, make sure you have some offline time.

Remember that whenever you jump between tasks you lose between 40 and 80% of your productivity, which has a negative impact on your performance. Eliminating distractions and creating discipline is crucial for maintaining high effectiveness. 

#4:  Track if your team really follows routines, and based on data regularly discuss with the team what works and what to improve 

Check if your team has routines in place and if they really follow them. The best way to do that is by turning to data. It will provide you a good ground for discussion, help you spot what works and what requires improvement. 

At Network Perspective, we recommend tracking the following team data:

  • Focus time – how much time your team spends on individual work without any distractions
  • Context switching – how much time your team spends jumping between various tasks
  • Collaboration workload – check how much time your team spends on collaboration, including email and chat communication as well as the time spent in meetings.

If you notice that your team has little time for deep work, and that most of their time is spent in meetings or on answering emails, it might mean it’s time to act as they lack time for individual work.

Final remarks 

Making sure that your team has enough time i.e. at least 2 hours a day for deep work and reducing context switching is necessary to maintain high productivity. Jumping between tasks results in 80% productivity loss, which has a detrimental effect on employee performance. One of the best ways to make sure that your employees have enough time for deep work is by creating routines and tracking data. For this reason, we recommend using a platform like Network Perspective that will give you access to invaluable insights about how your teams work.

July 4, 2021

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