How I doubled my team’s productivity instantly.
Several years ago I worked in the aerospace industry in a cubicle with three other engineers. There were frequent non-business conversations in our “work” area, and they were distracting enough that staying focused on our complex work was difficult. The distractions were so bad that our on-time drawing release performance was 18%; meaning, 82% of our drawings were late. Worse, we sent these drawings to over 30 other groups and our lateness made them late too.
I’ll admit that casual conversations weren’t the only cause, but they were a serious distraction in our complex work. But what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t stand up and yell: “Shut up and work! I can’t think straight with you jabbering!”
I had to find another way to get more work done.
In frustration, I picked up a piece of pink paper and fashioned it into a 4 inch square paper pyramid.
I turned to my cube-mates and said, “I need to focus on my work. I’m not getting much done. Therefore, I’m going to put this pink pyramid up on my desk’s stowbin, so you know I am busy. I don’t want to be interrupted. If you would take your conversations elsewhere, I would appreciate it.” There were no responses, just surprised looks.
I placed my Pink Pyramid on my stowbin and got to work. Not a word was said. Nor was anything said for quite a while. Then there was a discussion of a technical issue. Later another. No non-business conversations. Just a paper pyramid and quiet.
This productive work atmosphere continued the next day and the next. I was getting three times as much work done, and feeling good about it. My cube mates were also getting more work done. It was very business-like. I didn’t leave the Pink Pyramid up there all the time because it would lose its effectiveness. I just put it up when I needed to focus. Nonetheless, the conversations remained subdued, even without my pyramid in place.
What had happened? I decided to focus on getting my work done. I told everyone around me what I was up to. I had a visible tool reminding all of us about it. That little Pink Pyramid helped us focus on getting our work done.
The Pink Pyramid is a personal behavior modification device. It first must be used on you. Announce your intentions to focus on your work undisturbed when this pink pyramid is placed prominently in your work area. Next, turn off all cell phones, ignore phone calls, and ignore your email. If someone tries to start a distracting conversation, point to the pyramid, tell them it’s your quiet time, and then schedule time later to talk with them.
Now the results: Casual discussions will fade away or move to another area. Your personal productivity will increase because you’ll be focused on your work, not on the distractions. And best of all, your manager and other departments will notice your improved productivity.
The Pink Pyramid will help you focus on the most important steps of productivity:
- Prioritize your work.
- Focus only on the most important task.
- Complete that task.
- Focus on the next task.
So use the pyramid to focus your efforts. You’ll notice a huge difference in your output and your sense of accomplishment. If you have any questions or would like to relate some feedback of how you’ve benefited from using the pyramid, please contact me.
You can create a custom Pink Pyramid and make it any paper color you choose, even pink. Something distinctive would make sense. Add any wording you wish and make it yours.
Feedback and comments will be most appreciated.