Our ongoing research suggests that 77% of working Dads feel there is an implicit or explicit expectation of them to be always on when it comes to work. This has undoubtedly stemmed from the rise and rise of home working, remote working or hybrid working. I remember if I was under the weather and chose a day to work at home a few years ago this was most definitely deemed as winging a day off – whereas now it seems like the force for good?!
However, this is increasing the perception of working Dads that the trade off for remote or hybrid working is that they are always on call. This can lead to overwhelm, distraction, imposter syndrome and guilt that we aren’t giving our all to the home and family roles because we daren’t step back for a moment to look outside the work frame.
Getting things done in this frame of mind becomes a challenge. The goal is to simply get busy without really being productive.
The end of the day reflection.
Have you ever got to the end of the day and had a really ‘busy one’ but then sat down after the kids have gone to bed and questioned what you’ve actually achieved today?! I have, I sacrificed productivity for busy and I had to do something about it to buy back more time for home, for family and for me – to help readdress the balance.
The tool we share here isn’t something we created but heck, if it’s good enough for a President of the United States, it’s good enough for me!
I spend an hour of my Sunday evening looking ahead to the next week and by applying this tool to that ever expanding list of stuff I can prioritise and work my way productively through my list and avoid the sense of overwhelm that can creep in.
83% of Dads we polled feel daily or multiple times weekly sense of overwhelm. 50% feel this on waking up in a morning. Something must be done and we think this simple tool can really help catch you before overwhelm sets in.
PRODUCTIVITY, HABIT AND DELIGATION
For dads in leadership positions, habits and productivity may start to shift as office life is reintroduced. This could cause issues for dads in all sectors of a team, so it’s important now more than ever to pay close attention to productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.
Productivity changes from day to day. It can depend on your circumstances, and how you view productivity in the moment. Sometimes tasks feel urgent but are no longer the most important on the day. These could be tasks that are lingering on your to do list from three days ago, such as replying to emails or sorting through paperwork, which could be delegated to another person or left until urgent tasks are completed. Here lies the difference between the sensation of completeness (such as ticking things off a list) and the outcome of productivity (completing important tasks first).
Ask yourself, does this task align with what’s most important right now?
Getting into the habit of identifying cognitive tunnelling will allow you to see the bigger picture and delegate tasks appropriately. When you can identify cognitive tunnelling (which is essentially focusing on one thing and dismissing other secondary information that may be relevant or important to the task) it becomes easier to consider other options, scenarios or outcomes that could be superior. You might find you’re more open to the voices of your team, and your own second guessing. Creating habits around thinking more deeply can train our minds to work more efficiency and openly, seeing the bigger picture and considering all options.
USING HABITUAL BEHAVIOUR TO INCREASE FOCUS
Focus – the ability to sort through what is important and what is distracting. Once you are aware of what brings you closer to your goals and what distracts you, productivity at work will bloom. Notice the cognitive tunnelling, the procrastination and the environmental factors that slow you down and choose to change it. Once you find that awareness for individual situations, it doesn’t go away. You can practice this amongst other people in the workplace as a learning culture.
Filtering through tasks to prioritise things based on importance is a valuable skill to learn for dads in business who need to focus on time management. A useful model for this is the Eisenhower Matrix, used to prioritise your time on what matters most.
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Eisenhower Matrix has four quadrants:
DO – Often for urgent important tasks that have a deadline and cannot be delayed.
DECIDE – Reserved for tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent and can be scheduled for another time.
DELEGATE – Tasks that are urgent, but not important. These are tasks that can be put off or delegated to someone else whilst you focus on ‘do’ tasks.
ELIMINATE – This quadrant is for things that distract you from urgent and important tasks, such as social media, video games etc.
This matrix is useful for those who:
- Feel busy but also that their work is having low impact
- Have long term goals but little energy or time to spend on them
- Find delegating difficult
PRODUCTIVITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY FOR DADS AT WORK
“Productivity isn’t about working more or sweating harder. It’s not simply a product of spending longer hours at your desk or making bigger sacrifices. Rather, productivity is about making certain choices in certain ways.
The way we choose to see ourselves and frame daily decisions; the stories we tell ourselves, and the easy goals we ignore; the sense of community we build among teammates; the creative cultures we establish as leaders: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.”
The link between productivity and psychological safety in a team goes further than equal task delegation. Productivity is a matter of getting things done without sacrificing wellbeing. Over-working yourself or your employees can be counterproductive, as wellbeing within a workplace ensures that everyone is performing to their best ability as a team without burning out.
Encouraging healthy open communication about any issues for dads in the workplace will help to build stronger trust and happiness at work. This could include issues around childcare, needs for flexibility and mental health. Keeping an eye on wellbeing in the workplace creates a safe space for dads to speak up about anything that is preventing them from fulfilling their potential, which will boost their general productivity and team moral. Check in on your colleagues!
To create a healthy work environment, you should ask and listen to your employees’ preferences. Simple things such as checking whether individuals work best with or without music in the background – as it could be relaxing for some and distracting for others. Considering employees separate needs will help to build a calm and collected working environment, where employees feel they are being looked after and understood.
What about the employers?
As an employer, you could also encourage your employees to seek out hobbies outside of work as a way to wind down and reduce stress. Creating new incentives and out of work activities will encourage healthy work relationships. This strengthened harmony will boost general productivity, as employees feel they can speak out comfortably about any issues or concerns.