CIO Cheatcodes - Mega-batching your team calendar to reduce stress and maximize productivity (1 of 2)

Task switching is bad. The research of Dr. Sophie Leroy of the University of Minnesota has found that when we switch from one task to another, some of our attention remains stuck with the original activity. This residue has a negative impact on subsequent performance. See her discussing this process in this short clip. [read the research]

Attention Residue is when we work in a perpetual state of shifting tasks and refocusing attention creates fatigue, stress, and decreased productivity. An example is when you have your best ideas in the shower. The showering process is largely automated for your brain thereby freeing your mind to focus/think about other things. The same could be said for walking, meditation, or your everyday commute. 

Dr Leroy’s work was significantly elevated by a best-selling author by the name of Michael Hyatt who wrote Free to Focus (a NYTimes best seller). In the book, he describes how every time we become distracted, it takes an average of 15-24 minutes to regain complete focus.

Michael introduces the term Mega-batching: a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction. It aims to increase productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while decreasing fatigue, procrastination, and stress. 

How: Mega-batching

\One of the key benefits of mega-batching is that it allows you to focus on one thing at a time, without having to switch between tasks. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity, as you are able to complete tasks in a shorter amount of time. In addition, mega-batching can also help to reduce stress levels, as you are not constantly having to switch between tasks and can complete them at your own pace. Finally, mega-batching can also lead to improved quality of work, as you are able to complete tasks to a higher standard when you are not having to worry about other tasks at the same time.

Anyone can do this form of batch processing by grouping similar tasks that require similar resources in order to streamline their completion. Michael’s book is tailored largely to the individual. We asked ourselves what if instead of just one person mega-batching if the entire organization mega-batched our schedules? 

Establishing a rowing rhythm for the entire team

We needed to incorporate predictability and routine lead to less attention residue. 

Overall Goals:

  • Have concentrated focus times for EVERYONE 
  • Reduce task switching - with the ability for people to set days/time to work on a project
  • Have standard times for team meetings across disciplines and 1:1s 
  • Help teams manage their time
  • Make it easier to enter time

Team calendar planning

Calendar planning has proven to be more effective at reducing stress and task completion, but we found that only certain personality types on the team operated this way. We needed a cohesive solution to get everyone on board. We decided to make time for the team on Monday mornings to calendar plan within their discipline and document their plan via Google Calendar. Because all our calendars are shared, this allowed anyone in the organization to see what any other team member was focused on without having to interrupt them. This also created a forum for asking for help when there was a particularly busy week and 

Mega-batching combined with calendar planning has proven to be an extremely effective productivity technique that can be used by individuals or teams. If you are looking to increase your efficiency and productivity, or reduce your stress levels, then mega-batching is definitely worth trying out.

What's next

We’ve been refining our methodology and collecting data from our team on how this new way of focusing and planning the team's work week has gone. Stay tuned next week as we go more in-depth about how the team found the new workflow and the ways we refined it to work for our team in the present day.

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