Raise your hand if you’ve seen the MyAnalytics email that pops up in Outlook email every week.
Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a deep dive into the data that is designed to help you optimize the hours of your workday.
During a particularly busy stretch of proposal editing, I realized I needed a better way to organize my time. Microsoft MyAnalytics was hiding right under my nose, revealing (among other things) the best times for me to block off uninterrupted time to focus on writing.
I already have a time management app on my phone, but the constant notifications drive me nuts. And, to be honest, I’m still mostly a weekly planner/desktop calendar kind of guy.
But those things don’t provide months and months of data that documents work habits, then determines the best days and times to focus. According to the data, my best times are Mondays, 8-10 a.m., and Tuesdays between noon and 2 p.m.
So, what does all this have to do with writing?
Well, we’re selling clients on data and analytics in our proposals every day – why not trust it to help find time for writing?
MyAnalytics processes data from your emails, scheduled meetings and your activity on Microsoft Teams. Then, it provides insights through a personalized dashboard broken into four categories: Focus, Well-being, Collaboration and Network.
Each category includes suggestions that can help you make time to write better proposals.
For instance, the Focus category recommends blocking off focus time in your Outlook calendar. During that time, Teams chats will be muted to help you concentrate. Taking it a step further, because studies suggest the brain’s creative activity is at its peak in the morning and becomes more analytical as the day progresses, we recommend – depending on your focus days and times – scheduling writing your executive summary earlier in the morning. Financials and other sections that require less creativity can wait until later.
The Well-being category is all about disconnecting and recharging. Consider this: Research shows that more than 40% of our creative ideas come when we are taking breaks or allowing our minds to wander.
Finally, the Collaboration and Network categories show how much time you’ve spent in virtual meetings, chats and exchanging emails with co-workers. You might notice that your collaborations have gone way up since we started working from home; with these avenues being our only ways to communicate, mine shot up from 7% to a whopping 33% over the past year.
I’ll be checking to see if that percentage goes back down when we return to the office, but this information is valuable for finding uninterrupted writing time. Take a hard look at the data to determine which, if any, you can do without.
Some other tips:
- Regularly reviewing recurring meetings can help you make sure they are still valuable.
- In general, people can only pay attention for 10 to 18 minutes at a time. Consider scheduling your meetings in 15-minute increments.
- Every person added to a meeting group over seven reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.
All of these tips can help you be more productive in general, but we hope you’ll use some of that earned time to improve your business writing skills.
Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long – whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot – we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.