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Deep Focus: The key to productive employees


1 September 2022 at 1:54 pm
Samantha Freestone
We’ve all heard about the much-lauded four-day working week and productivity hacks to make employees more efficient. Turns out science backs it up and the key is deep focus.


Samantha Freestone | 1 September 2022 at 1:54 pm


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Deep Focus: The key to productive employees
1 September 2022 at 1:54 pm

We’ve all heard about the much-lauded four-day working week and productivity hacks to make employees more efficient. Turns out science backs it up and the key is deep focus.

B-Corp certified business consultation firm Inventium specialise in organising workflow to get the best out of employees.

Organisational psychologist and head of product development at Inventium Charlotte Rush said the key to productivity is mapping out your top three priorities, time blocking and working on one task at a time.

“Focus is hard at the moment. With flexible working environments the distractions are different in the home and in the office,” she said.

“The key is to create a deep work habit. Setting up your day to set up your day,” she said.

Step One: Know your Prototype

Rush explained that working to your prototype is one of the first things to understand about your working-style, whether you’re a manager or an employee.

“Some of us have our energy in the morning. Some in the evening. Our CEO, for example, is an owl and is most productive in the evening so she achieves most of her deep work then,” Rush said.

Step two: Work on one task that is a priority for your role first

Rush said that almost everyone is guilty of jumping into their inboxes first thing and although necessary, this is not advised.

She said that if you begin your day by responding to people, you may be in that frame of mind for the rest of the working day.

“Most people start their day by sitting down and opening their inboxes. That sets up your day to respond to people. I am not saying that we should not be not responding to people, but we should certainly delay,” she advised.

“Following that, if you work on an agreed priority first thing, then time box your tasks and priorities after that [you are more productive]. 

“If you put it in your diary you are much more likely to meet that action.”

Step three: Priority setting

Rush says adjusting to remote working for employers and employees has been a challenge and the key is defining priorities for employees.

“It means that they need to ask themselves what their own top three priorities are and what the top three priorities are for their staff.

“The best thing you can do is get really clear on what the priorities are for a specific employee. If they are not moving that needle you can ask them how you can help them meet them.

“It may be that there are too many meetings, or time is being wasted on emails,” she said.

Rush explained that a priority historically was one singular thing, or one or two things at most.

“Now priority lists can be extensive and this is the root of many of the issues around effective management and productivity issues.

“There are so many leaders I work with that say, we have 46 priorities, for example.

“If you can’t see what the people are working on, set them, and ask directly how are you going with your priorities and how can I help you meet those priorities and that really should be your role as a manager

“It actually puts it in the employee’s hands to have a sense of ownership and that is really important for motivation,” she said.

Step four: One task at a time

Rush points to research conducted by Professor David Meyer from the University of Michigan who found that when people ‘task switch’ it takes them 40 per cent more time to get the work done.

“What that means if you become a mono tasker and do that every day, you could possibly leave work at 3pm every day because you are saving all of that time due to task switching,” she said.

 Rush said working out what you are focusing on and just doing that is the key to the four day work week.

“We are all guilty of multi-tasking. I was even doing it this morning,” she said.

“You just need to learn to be super aware of it and redirect yourself. Ask yourself, ‘what is the one task I am going to work on for the next hour?’”


Samantha Freestone  |  @ProBonoNews

Samantha Freestone is a career reporter with a special interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics, sustainable financial market reporting and politics.


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