Updated: Oct 25, 2021
It’s been said many times that multi-tasking is simply not possible – our brains are not wired that way, which is true. We cannot physically focus on two things simultaneously. We are just simply switching our focus each time and with each switch, we lose a little bit of sharpness and focus that makes us so great at what we do, thereby setting the stage for mistakes to happen. I’m here today to talk about the value of having true ‘focus’ time.
By being able to shut off outside noise and interference, it allows us to completely engage in the task we are trying to achieve. With the advent of remote-based technology like instant messaging, email and other alerts that pop up on our phones or laptops, it makes it even that much more difficult to settle down and focus on what we must get done. Microsoft has introduced a concept called ‘Focus Time’ that comes with their Analytics tool that integrates to Outlook and I have to say I am impressed by not only how the tool works but by my ability to focus and drown out the distractions.
Here’s how it works – by turning on the analytics tool, it is directly integrated to Microsoft Outlook and thereby has access to your calendar and what open spots you have. Outlook will automatically schedule ‘focus time’ meetings into your calendar (usually 60 minutes or more) and when you enter these ‘meetings’ it will turn Microsoft Teams into DND (do not disturb) mode for the duration of the time. Aside from the standard Outlook popup to tell you that you have a meeting you won’t know you’ve entered focus time, but you will feel the difference.
So, what has this tool taught me? It’s shown me that not every IM is urgent, that not every email needs a response within minutes and that being able to focus your mind on one thing at a time and truly lose yourself into the problem you are trying to solve is a glorious way to work.
Since the massive shift of remote working, it has become all too easy to ‘multitask’ during meetings that you feel you’re not contributing to. But the side task you are working on is not getting your full attention that it likely deserves. By utilizing this focus time, we are allowing our entire brains to target a single problem at a time.