Tag Archives: focus

A notification diet of one week

NotificationsWe check our mobile devices 214 times per day. In my case it’s mostly because it triggers my attention (and curiosity) with a notification. By disabling the notifications of the apps on my smart phone, I count on regaining more of my productivity and spending more time in flow. Read further to see why and how my one week of notification diet will start.

We check our mobile devices about 214 times per day. Of this day, there are about 8 hours of sleep, 1 hour washing & getting ready (for work, for bed), 1 hour getting my daughter ready (for school, for bed) and 1 hour or more driving to work. That means that I’m checking my mobile device 214 times in about 13 hours. Of these 13 hours, I’m 8 hours at work. So in theory, I’d check my mobile device 132 times at work.

There are several reasons why I’m triggered for checking my mobile device:

  • I’m bored.
  • I’m busy waiting (eg. commuting with the train).
  • I’m triggered by a notification of my mobile device.

For 1 and 2, it’s not an issue when I’m working on my mobile. The third is different. If you’re active in a few social networks, following many people online and participating in forums or group, you get quite some daily updates, all at what looks like random times. For example, a new post on your Facebook wall, a trending topic on Twitter, a new board added by your friend on Pinterest.

These notifications interrupt your current work and it’s very hard not to respond to them. It’s like your mobile saying “Hey, I’ve got something special for you”. But often when I look, it’s kinda disappointing. If I’m actually expecting news from somebody, than the notification is mostly not of them.

The interruptions make it hard to concentrate at work. It’s getting hard to get into flow, the most optimal state of work where things get done and time flies by. When you’re in a meeting or in a conversation, it’s tempting, nearly impossible, not to look at your mobile device upon receiving a notification. You never know what you could have missed… In the end, your productivity drops and you come across as a non-interested ass to your colleagues.

It’s time to take matters into my hands and regain my focus and my politeness. Let’s start with a notification diet of one week and see how things go.

A notification diet of one week

For one week, I’ll disable all my notifications on my mobile device. No more Facebook updates, no more trending Twitter tweets, no more GMail notifications. The sound and vibrate functions will be disabled. The only sound my mobile device will make, is when I get a text message or a phone call. I’m not off the grid, but if anyone wants to reach me, it’s possible and will be via a one-on-one connection.

First I wasn’t sure if I’d disable the notifications for (Facebook) Messenger, Snapchat or Whatsapp. These are also direct links to me personally and the difference with classic text messages is small. But while writing this blog I actually got a personal message, a notification, … and my focus was gone. It proved exactly my point, so they’re out too.

The goal of the notification diet is to regain focus and be more productive. The notifications will only be checked during breaks.

Catch you on the flip side!

Thanks at Robby Moors for making me aware of the loss of productivity!

Additional reading

How often do you look at your mobile device?

10 Smart Tips to Prevent Distractions and Sharpen Your Focus

Eliminate These 8 Things From Your Daily Routine

Flow, the secret to happiness (TeD talk)

PS: I’m also aware that this blog in some cases shows up as a notification on your mobile device. Thanks for reading it, now get back to your work 😉

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Team dysfunction assessment

5 dysfunctions pyramid

5 dysfunctions pyramid

In “The five dysfunctions of a team” Patrick Lencioni describes the five characteristics of highly effective teams (trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and attention to results), as ultimate competitive advantage.

The conclusion of the story is that every team needs these five characteristics and you cannot have effective teams with attention to results without a foundation of trust, conflict, commitment and accountability. Every layer needs to be build on asolid based layer below, just like with a pyramid.

While we see the image of the pyramid is regularly used in trainings, on the work floor, …, we also notice thereluctance of taking actions for improving upon it.

It all starts with a team assessment to find out where the focus areas are for your team, and an action plan for improvement.

A typical work point in teams is the lack of trust, which results in non-constructive or no conflict at all. See also blog entry “Get into conflict”.

The assessment

With a question list of only 15 questions with answers on a scale of three you can assess your team effect-ability.

You can find an example assessment here:


The Table Group also offers an automated assessment here:


Scope of the assessment

Make the first assessment your team only; without interfaces, otherwise the assessment and results will be confusing.

Determine and communicate the scope for the assessment to make sure all participants are aligned.

Why are you doing this assessment?

What do you want to reach with it?

Who is considered as a “team”? Is it including the customer? Is it including the one employee that is outsourced to another team for this quarter?

Analysis of the assessment

I have seen different ways to analyze the results of the assessment.

The Table Group even offers a full automated analysis with conclusions and tips. An example can be found here:


The most important takeaway here is not to overanalyze.

Check the average to see how your team is doing on one particular layer.

Check the highlights and lowlights. Why are they saying something so different?

What is the one thing that needs focus most?

A deeper analysis can be done by evaluating not the result of the complete analysis, but the individual questions to make some sort of top 5 of highlights and lowlights with as goal a more focused approach.

Action plan

No need for an assessment and an analysis without an action plan. Making an action plan gives also a clear signal to your team that there’s still work in progress but that you’re also willing to take up the challenge.


On what base should you reassess your team? It’s up to you to find the right frequency. There’s no need to reevaluate when there’s nothing taken up from the action plan.

Use the Deming wheel or PDCA-cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act.

The assessment will be your “check” step. The action plan will be your “Plan” step.

Additional reading

Slide summary of the pyramid http://www.slideshare.net/rajopadhye/5dys

Management summary http://www.conequity.com/storage/resources-pdf/thefivedysfunctionsofateam.pdf

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