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How to be productive as a team even if you’re not async

Working in an async environment is productive for sure. But what if your team/company isn’t working asynchronously? Can you still achieve productivity with these settings? Or should you join an async company to be productive?

I believe every team can be productive, async or not. But it needs some discipline, and buy-in from the team members/manager. Of course, it’s easier when the whole company understands the importance of async work. But that shouldn’t stop you or your team from being productive.

And to help you with that, here are 3 steps to maximise your productivity as a team:

Personal time blocks

Before going into team-level changes, let’s start small. What about making each individual productive? And that comes with time-blocking.

Time blocking is a productivity method used by individuals to take control of their time. The pillars of this method are 1) assigning a specific work type to a specific time frame. For example, allocating two hours to move that project past the finish line. One hour to do administrative work. etc. and 2) sticking to the time frame as much as possible. That includes reducing distractions, being in the zone, etc.

Given the importance of this step, I’ll share our detailed article about the subject. It has everything you need to get started 🙂

Team-level time blocking

After implementing time-blocking on a personal level, the next step is team level.

This step is easier. The same process we discussed above but applied to a team level. For example, a team can decide to take Thursday and Tuesday afternoons for complete focus. During this time, the team doesn’t schedule meetings, may have a delay answering pings, etc…

But teams can’t decide to stop answering on their own. Some teams work in agencies with customers. Others deal with urgent incidents daily. And some work in support. So, can time blocking work in these cases too?

Yes, it can! Let me explain.

For cases when you can’t turn off the pings, think about a “support rotation”. Someone taking care of the urgents/pings, while the team is focusing on their work. This team member is no focusing deliberately to make it easier for his team to focus. What a hero!

This hero position is a rotation. Every time/week, a new member of the team will act as a hero. This has the benefits of increasing the productivity of the whole team, while one team member is taking care of anything “urgent”.

Day(s) free of meetings

While the idea of time blocking span over a few hours, this one is for whole day(s)! Days free of meetings and distractions.

Next time your team gathers, discuss the idea of having a day free of meetings. During this day, meetings/calls are not scheduled, and the team has the complete day to focus.

However, beware that the idea here is to keep the days as they are while trying to reduce the number of meetings. Not trying to cram the meetings in the remaining days!

A way of thinking about it is: The team’s workweek is 4 days now. If having 5 calls in one day is unhealthy when having a 5-day workweek, so it is when having a 4-day work week. If your team has a free-meetings day, it doesn’t mean it should endure a crazy schedule.

This is the hardest step as it involves many changes. But rest assured, it’s the more rewarding and the closest you can get to async working.

I hope these ideas can help your team be more productive! Remember, the goal is to take things slowly and experiment with your team.

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