Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work

By Gregg Cohen

I was reading my blogs this morning and came across a great post from Joe Stampone at the A Student Of The Real Estate Game blog.  I've copied the article here and I'll give you my take below:

Getting Work Done At Work
By Joe Stampone on December 20, 2010

There was an interesting TED Talk given by  Jason Fried, the founder of 37 Signals, looking at why work doesn’t happen at work. It’s ironic, when asked where they are most productive, rarely does one say work. People need to get away from the office to actually get meaningful work done – to places where they can control the distractions.

At work, rarely does one have long stretches of uninterrupted time. Work and sleep are very closely correlated, they are both phase-based events. When you’re trying to sleep, but you’re constantly interrupted, you’re not going to feel well-rested the next day.

Take 15 minutes to watch this video, it’ll help you think about ways to actually get work done at work:


Managers and meetings (M&M’s) are the real distractions. Here are a few suggestions to help your employees focus on the actual work:

1. No talk Thursday’s – nobody in the office can talk to each other
2. Switch from active communication to passive communication
3. Just cancel that next meeting



So, here's my take:

I really liked what Jason had to say about how hard it is to actually get work done at work.  About 6 months ago, I started working from home in Ormond Beach, FL 3 days a week and only coming to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Initially I was a little concerned that the communication with my team would suffer and ultimately, my team's productivity would suffer.  However, that's just not the case.  I am so much more productive now.  The main reason is because I have long, un-interrupted periods of time where I can think and produce.  And Jason is right when he says that's the best gift you can give someone at work.

The one part of the talk that I didn't agree with Jason was his 3rd suggestion of how to be more productive at work: “Just cancel the next meeting.”  A small number of regularly scheduled meetings is crucial for a team to grow in my opinion. I would say just to avoid the spontaneous meetings. I'm a part of 2 regularly scheduled meetings per week and I think that works well.  The rest of the week, my team and I can focus on producing and growing.

In fact, one thing that has helped me to be more productive and to disrupt my team less is to create a running list of ideas / topics to discuss in our next meeting.  That way, when I have an idea, I don't  have to bother one of my teammates and stop them from being productive.  And usually, by the time the meeting has rolled around, one of two things has happened with that idea:

1. I've been able to think about the idea more so when I bring it up in the meeting I can better explain my thoughts and vision

2. Or I've been able to think about the idea more and realize that it's not a good idea, so I don't even bring it up

So, can you guess I'm going to do with these good ideas about how to be more productive at work?  That's right…I'm going to write these down on my ideas list and bring them up in my next regularly scheduled meeting with my team so we can implement!  And you should too!

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