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Work-life management skills for personal and company productivity are not taught in school and, as a result, workers are often left to their own devices (sticky notes, flags in email, writing and reviewing paper lists, etc.) with mixed results. There are too many sticky notes, endless paper lists, and urgent emails which are really tasks in disguise that get buried as new ones come in— all these result in workers feeling overwhelmed and important projects getting relegated to the back-burner.  Managing workflow well means having a systematic process in place and most workers don’t. With varying ‘skills’ in the workforce, it can be difficult to track overall work and progress which leaves company productivity to chance.

It has also become socially acceptable to email, text or IM our colleagues about work during off-hours even though we would rarely call about work matters during those times. It seems these new communication tools are perceived to be less intrusive than a ringing phone but the disruptions are still damaging. The employee is never really ‘off’, between constantly checking for messages and assumptions of expectations, an unintentional work culture is created that, counter-intuitively, bars real productivity and progress toward meaningful results. Company productivity is the culmination of individual worker productivity.

For knowledge workers, downtime is key, both away from the office, but also at work, in the form of breaks and the space to be reflective and thoughtfully proactive. The company culture needs to support the appropriate balance of downtime, thinking time and productive, proactive time.

And, once the day ends, the employee needs to know how to honor their personal time by disconnecting from work and setting boundaries through attention management.

Attention management is the ‘hidden in plain sight’ key to success for the new world of work, a world of work without walls. And bonus – it helps companies to measure and improve overall results, both in personal and company productivity.

Discover how you can begin the process yourself by checking out my new book: Work Without Walls: An Executive’s Guide to Attention Management, Productivity, and the Future of Work. (Tip: You can read the first chapter for free by clicking the link.)