To get anywhere we start with two skills:
- showing up to the daily work session
- staying in that work session for your targeted time
Getting good at these two skills takes time, much more time than we ever think it will. And if we do, there is a third required skill comes after that.
If we can keep at it, we get to our daily work session and we stay in it. But it’s not enough. We need another skill that’s hard to attain:
- The skill of doing quality work in each work session
My focus here is not on the quality of our work but the quality of our working.
What is Quality Working?
Our state of mind and state of heart tells us if we are doing quality work:
- We face our work straight-on
- We feel increasingly engaged as each minute goes by
- We feel we are honestly giving all we can muster for that day
- We feel connected to our work even if it is very challenging, not going well, confusing, etc.
- We stay in the work session not skip out early
- We are so concentrated we feel outside of clock time
- The entire world is right in front of us
How We Cheat on Session Quality
- We drag distractions into our work sessions. A little background music is fine but television, web surfing, having the cell phone around, large cafe crowds, and the such, is too much. We have to get over our grade school habits of half-way working as we do our homework, half watching entertainment (old days, TV; now TV and cell phone).
- We avoid the real work. We do everything but the hard stuff. Instead, we research, organize, purchase, plan….anything but the core of our work which is usually very challenging and not easy.
- We bring in the mindset that today is not important. There will always be plenty of tomorrows to get serious, get down to it, to do things right.
Keeping Quality High(er)
The skill, keeping good work session quality, takes time to learn and isn’t easy to master. But there are some things we can do make it more likely we will get this skill under our control.
>Pause and Make a Real Felt Shift
Take a few moments to gather yourself and to leave what you have been doing behind. Mentally let it go. Pause. Now take a moment to feel and see yourself shifting into your work. Visualize yourself working a few minutes before you actually pick up your tools to begin. To get this right you will need bring yourself to a complete stop and then work through the steps justs listed. If you don’t stop, you will impatiently skip through the steps and defeat the purpose of making a shift.
>Go Cold Turkey
Don’t bring distractions into your session. Put your work front and center and if there are distractions blocking you, move them aside. Give yourself to your work even if it is difficult to let everything else go. Trust the work process and yourself that you can get through this without bring some form of distraction along. Cold turkey. Immerse yourself in your work.
>Read the Definition of Work Session Quality Daily
Memorize the list above of the qualities of quality sessions by reading the list daily. In time, you will be naturally led towards maintaining work session quality by your unconscious.
>Work in the Presence of Others
There is something about working with others that helps us be more focused on our work. It probably has to do with the social skills and connections hard-wired into most humans. When others are working around us we kick-up our game to a higher level than if we working alone. We are naturally more accountable for showing up, staying focused on our work, and maintaing quality work.
Find a work partner or partners. Committ to having a check-in at the end of the work session and have people report on work session quality, not just what was produced.
If you can’t find partners in the flesh, turn to visualization. Visualize that you have invited someone who is important to you to be with you in every work session. By choosing someone important/respect, the visualization will call up some of the same accountability that happens when working with real work partners. What would be o.k. (read as sloppy) work for ourselves becomes more unacceptable in the presence of our visualized partner. Think of it now: How would you act/perform in a session if a special person was there, not judging your work, but evaluating if you are giving enough of yourself to your work?
Protect your work sessions. How many can you afford to waste to poor quality working?