Supporting Others

How to help others to be more productive


Read in 2 minutes

Supporting Others

Being mindful at work means more than increasing your own productivity. It’s important to support others as well.

Few people understand the productivity game. As a result, you’re surrounded by colleagues who operate with a significant handicap. They haven’t turned off their notifications. Each email arrives with trumpets and dancing icons. Every minute BING! they get BING! Slack messages BING!.

Unlike you, they haven’t developed skills to do meaningful work amid the barrage of potential distractions. So you must be thoughtful about how you engage with colleagues to avoid adding to the problem.

Here are a few tips for minimising your impact on others.

Discover their preference

Ask your colleagues how to contact them about something non-urgent. Most people have a preference. For a lot of people it’s email, but some prefer WhatsApp or a Skype message.

Keep a note of this and use it often. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t distracting them, but you can sleep better for having asked.

If you are a manager, this process is twice as important. Your team will feel obliged to respond to you quickly. By having the chat, you set clear expectations that some messages can be answered in their own time.

Consider what’s urgent

It’s frustrating when your work is blocked because you need information from someone.

Imagine you were in a flow state, making great progress, but now you need the sales figures from Julie. It’s tempting to walk over and ask. Or to fire off a Slack message and hope she sees it immediately. After all, your work is important and it’s halted!

But Julie’s work is important too. Chances are she’s not a productivity guru like you. Perhaps she’s in the zone right now, getting lots done. It would be selfish to disturb her.

Few matters are urgent. Try to remember this and fire questions through non-urgent channels. If you don’t know their preference, assume it’s email.

Spread the word

Nobody likes a preacher, so tread carefully. Consider dropping a few hints to your struggling workmates:

  • Mention you only check email twice a day, as a polite warning to expect slow responses. If they seem interesting, hit them with some productivity love.
  • Apologise for slow responses on messaging clients by explaining you don’t check them when doing deep work. If they ask what deep work is, introduce them to Cal Newport.

Above all, lead by example and respect their time and attention.

Previous post:

Slow Habits