With the rise of new technologies, the way we work has totally changed: we skype with colleagues across the ocean, we can work from home easily, with access to all our key documents and applications. Online interactions have increased, but at the same time it has become harder and harder to switch off and we can easily feel a bit overwhelmed by work. Does this ring a bell?
When I saw the launch of Goals in Google Calendar last month, it reminded me how important it is to take a break (and have a KitKat if you want 😉 ) and how I managed to do so using Julie. In this article, I want to share my personal experience and hopefully it will inspire you!
Being productive doesn’t mean working from 7AM to 10PM, and just take 15minutes break at lunch to eat a sandwich, in front of a laptop of course. Indeed, a study released few years ago by Desk Time, showed that the ideal rhythm for work is 52/17: 52 minutes of work, 100% focused, and 17 minutes to relax.
We are not Julie. We are not robots. We can’t stay focused too long and that’s why breaks are importants for us. The bad thing is we tend to think that we are superheroes and overload our agendas, going from one meeting to another without breaks in between.
Here is where applications like Goals from Google Calendar but also (and above all 😉 services like Julie Desk make sense: it makes you actually take those breaks.
When you set up Julie, you are asked several questions about your habits and how you would like to organize your meetings:
- How many appointments do you have a week?
- How much time would you like between two appointments?
- When do you want to have meetings?
- What transport do you use?
When I first set up Julie, I had some trouble answering those questions: I’ve never really asked myself how I would organize my meetings and just schedule them at any time, when I was free. But actually, I should have thought about it! First, I told Julie I was ok to have meetings from 8:30AM to 7:30PM. And Julie acted the way I told her. But then, I realized I didn’t like to have meetings too early in the morning or too late in the evening; I’d rather use those moments to read articles or check my emails. Emails can give a lot of pressure; you feel you would never treat them all!
I don’t think there is a magic formula to organize our time: everyone works in their own way. Some people like to wake up super early and do their « morning routine », others stay up late and find out they are more productive after midnight! The important thing is to know what works best for you. No need to duplicate the way of life of Steve Jobs & Co, it might not work for you, but, it doesn’t mean you won’t create the new Apple! We are influenced by other’s agendas and preferences and also by the traditional “business hours”. And sometimes we forget to really define what works best for us. As I said at the beginning, new technologies have allowed us to be more flexible at work, so let’s grab this opportunity and increase our productivity! Why should we keep focusing on business hours like « 8:30 AM to 7 PM » if you feel more productive from 11 AM to 10 PM (and if it matches with your personal life)? Keeping in mind of course that you can’t force your colleague to follow your “special hours”.
As mentioned earlier, using Julie has allowed me to exercise this and really think about how I would like my agenda to be organized. Working with Julie and having her scheduling my meetings helped me define the slots where I don’t want to be bothered with meetings, like this I can stay focus and move forward on my tasks. The good thing is I can always adapt my preferences: I just need to send her an email telling her my new preferences and she will follow them right away.
On the other hand, I’ve asked her to set up some slots to do some personal activities. That’s something I used to do myself (well, kind of…): « Ok, here I’ll try to go the gym », « Here, I’ll see my friends… ». But then, you have a last minute meeting and you say “OK I’ll cancel the gym”. Since I was managing my agenda, I used to postpone or cancel lot of my personal activities for work. The result? I felt frustrated and my work was not at it’s best. When you ask Julie to manage your agenda, if she sees that you have something planed at that time, she will try to find another moment to schedule your meeting -she can’t analyze if something can be postponed or not. Working this way, I realized that most of the time, these unexpected meetings or events can be rearranged with no issue, which allows me to do my personal activities. Yes, let’s say it, maybe I used to postpone some Gym classes because I was lazy but at least now, thanks to Julie, no more excuses!
Anyway, all this about me and my agenda is to tell you how important it is to think about how we structure our days. And the best way to do it and follow the structure we defined is actually to have someone helping you. For me, it has been Julie.
What about you? What are your tips?
Don’t just schedule meetings – Julie Desk them!
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