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Working with others in some shape or form is necessary for most professions, and collaborating with a team of people can often be beneficial, productive and rewarding.

Some work, however, must be done alone, without outside distractions. Peace and quiet are not always easy to come by during a busy work week, but it is essential to set aside time for solitude to maximize your productivity and personal effectiveness.

1. Find the right time.

Examine your daily schedule and find a block of time (at least 30 minutes to an hour) that you can dedicate to independent, uninterrupted work. For some people, this is first thing in the morning before other colleagues arrive; others prefer a time toward the end of the work day. Stick to your schedule, and do a little work on your solo projects every day.

2. Put it in your calendar.

Once you find a good time, mark it off on your shared office calendar, and let your co-workers know that you are unavailable for meetings during that period. If you have an office with a door, close it. If you work in a cubicle or open-plan space, find a polite signal to inform others that you are working independently.

3. Unplug.

Technological distractions can quickly derail productivity. To maximize personal effectiveness, silence your personal cell phone and close your Internet browser. If you have some web research to do for your work, do it first and then focus on your offline work. Be strict with yourself, otherwise you may end up checking email and watching YouTube videos instead of focusing on your work. For writing projects, consider using a distraction-free writing tool to make it easier to concentrate.

What do you do to stay focused and increase your personal effectiveness?


Find out more about the Increasing Your Personal Effectiveness course.

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