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13 May

Establish a seagull-free hour


Datum: 2015-05-13 12:00

Do you feel as if it takes a long time before you get going with your tasks and doings at the office in the morn­ing? Just as you take a deep breath and get ready to start work­ing, a col­league stands in the door­way with a cup of hot cof­fee. You smalltalk about lit­tle bit of every­thing and when the cup is emp­ty the col­league says Alright, I should prob­a­bly get work­ing now”, and moves on. And just as you turn to your desk to make anoth­er attempt at read­ing that email, anoth­er col­leagues pops his head through the door.

Sure, it is nice to say hel­lo to every­one in the morn­ing, but some peo­ple I meet in my work feel that it takes too much time and dis­rupts them more than they feel it is worth. If the smalltalk takes longer than it should, it could take us a full hour to get the tem­po going. And some­where in the mid­dle of all the good morn­ings and chit-chat, we need to get up and get our­selves a cup of cof­fee as well.

Like screech­ing seagulls
The employ­ees of an orga­ni­za­tion I met with a while ago described them­selves as hov­er­ing seag­ulls who swooped through the office in the morn­ings and spread their sh*t”, mean­ing their gos­sip­ing and chit-chat­ting. They agreed to estab­lish a seag­ull-free hour, mean­ing, an hour in the morn­ing when every­one stays in their rooms and focus­es on get­ting start­ed with work.

Does this sound famil­iar? If so, decide to ground the seag­ulls for an hour every day. You could for instance make it an hour in the morn­ing and hence pro­vide your­selves with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to give the day a good start. Per­haps you all have your own morn­ing rou­tine that helps you get going with the right thing right away.

Do this

  1. If you think a seag­ull-free hour sounds like a good idea that would help you and your col­leagues, decide when you will bring it up as a sug­ges­tion and in what con­text you will do so. Per­haps it is appro­pri­ate dur­ing the next team-meet­ing, the next staff-meet­ing, the next man­age­ment-group meet­ing, the next mon­day-meet­ing or some oth­er time when you meet with your col­leagues as a group.

  2. Before you intro­duce the idea to the whole group it might feel bet­ter to find out if more peo­ple than your­self expe­ri­ence the chat­ter as a prob­lem as well, or if you are the only one who is both­ered by it. Decide who you want to run the idea by one-to-one — per­haps the col­league you are clos­est to is a good candidate.

  3. When you present your idea to the group, make sure to do so in a pos­i­tive man­ner and focus on how this would pro­vide you all with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op and improve. This is impor­tant since it can be a sen­si­tive top­ic. Per­haps not all your col­leagues will approve of your descrip­tion of them as screech­ing seag­ulls who spread their sh*t every­where (even though this metaphor is intend­ed to be fun­ny, not mean).

    You should there­fore sell the idea by pri­mar­i­ly describ­ing the pos­i­tive effects of the seag­ull-free hour. You could for exam­ple say Would you, like me, like to have an hour at the begin­ning of the day when we can all real­ly focus on our work, when we can do all the things we need to be focused and undis­turbed to do?”, and so on.

  4. Empha­size that when the seag­ull-free hour is over, every­one is free to smalltalk and chit-chat again. The idea is not to ban all com­mu­ni­ca­tion amongst your­selves, but to give every­one an effi­cient start to their day, which will ben­e­fit everyone.

Focus undis­turbed
If you agree to have a recur­ring hour or so every week when every­one works alone and undis­turbed, you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly have more space and ener­gy for the tasks which require your full atten­tion and focus. You will not have to say no to any­one, ask any­one to leave or set your foot down just because you need to work with­out inter­rup­tions for a while (which we oth­er­wise tend to avoid since we do not want to expe­ri­ence the unpleas­ant­ness of such confrontation).

Since you already know that you will be left alone for that spe­cif­ic peri­od of time, you might be able to relax more dur­ing the week as you are con­tin­u­ous­ly inter­rupt­ed by col­leagues, phone calls, clients or oth­er disruptions.

What is your way?
What kind of agree­ment have you made in your team regard­ing when to be avail­able and when you get to work undis­turbed? Share your tip. Leave a comment. 

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