6 Ways to Recreate a Cave In Your Office
Caveday is a company improving your relationship to work. We run facilitated deep work sessions called “The Cave” several times a week. Sign up for our mailing list here to get a discount on your first Cave, and get productivity tips, life hacks, and recommendations.
The Cave is a place where a different kind of work is possible—deep, important work. We’ve seen hundreds of people ship projects, launch businesses, transition their career, and change the way they work at our events and workshops.
Caveday is a transformative community partly because of the experience we facilitate, and partly–but equally importantly–because of the energy our community of Cavedwellers bring. While not every day can be a full day in The Cave, the good news is there are ways you can channel that vibe in your daily routine. Here are six ways to evoke the Caveday experience at your office.
1. Lock up your phone
Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that simply having your phone on the table makes you feel more unhappy and less engaged; a University of Chicago study found it can reduce cognitive performance… even if it’s on airplane mode!
Your phone is making you unhappy and stupid. Just having it out of sight helps keep you focused and more engaged. Better than putting it on your desk, put it in your pocket. Better than your pocket is in a bag or jacket. Anywhere out of reach. And even better than out of reach is locking it up for a short time so it’s not even possible for you to access. This is step one of behavior transformation and it will be really difficult. But it will get easier as you continue to develop this practice into a habit.
While we’re finishing development on our own Caveday phone lock-box, check out this one we use.
If you only had a limited time in a grocery store, you’d probably want to organize your list before you go.
Get all your produce at once. Your dairy, your snacks, your frozen goods. Group similar items so you’re not wasting time or losing your spot in line. If you’ve ever gone to Trader Joe’s after 4pm, you know what we’re talking about. The same goes for your work. You only have a limited number of hours in a day. To be the most efficient and get through more tasks quickly, CHUNK tasks. Do similar things during the same sprint.
Rather than check email every 10 minutes with the tab always-up, check your email twice a day. Try 9:30am and 4pm. (Add one at 2pm if you have to.) Start by looking at your to-do list and making groups to organize your day. Look for categories like research or learning. Sales. Editing. Creating and concepting. Testing. And don’t forget the key to chunking — using your calendar or sprint planner. Block off time so it’s clear what you’re working on and when.
We’re very lucky to have a full Caveday experience of seven sprints. That’s not really the way most offices work. But if you can block off 45 minutes every day for a deep work sprint, you’re beginning to train yourself to work in The Cave on your own — distraction-free in deep focus. That one sprint might quickly expand into two or three. Maybe some days you’ll block off the whole morning or afternoon to barrel through your entire week’s to-dos.
Don’t forget to include a refueling break after every sprint. Stretch. Snack. Get some fresh air. Hydrate. Be social. Re-energize yourself to go back to work. And of course, as always — monotask.
4. Break together
We’ve noticed from our work with companies that few teams stay in-sync. Try taking breaks together.
When you know everyone is going on a break at 11am for five or ten minutes, the way you communicate changes. We see teams holding off on talking about weekend plans and last night’s Netflix binge. But this is only possible if everyone is focused on their work at the same time, protected from interruptions.
If you’re a manager or team leader, we suggest you implement a group break or two at the same time every day. See the difference it makes in productivity, communication, and morale.
Read more of our ideas for taking better breaks here.
5. Co-create rules
On the first day of kindergarten, the teacher gathers the children in a circle to discuss the rules and expectations of the classroom. When everyone knows the rules, the class is disciplined. They’re learning. They’re having fun.
So… sit down with YOUR team to write out your rules and expectations.
Should an email be answered in 2 minutes? 2 hours? Should Slack be the primary form of file-sending? If you had to, would your team rather work late nights or weekends? Does everyone have to be in every meeting? If not, how is information disseminated? What about working from home? A list of team rules gets everyone’s buy-in on how things work and manages expectations.
It might help to give it a fun or important name like “Rules of Engagement” or “Team Manifesto.” If it’s stated that “we don’t check emails after 8pm or on weekends”, then there should be no expectation of such. Not only will it make your teammates happier and feel heard, it will also make onboarding new members of your team that much easier.
6. Ban tech during meetings
Bringing laptops and phones to meetings has become normal. But the reason most of us do it, is as a “just in case.” Just in case the meeting gets boring. Just in case we’re not needed for one minute. Just in case I can get away with finishing that email. But the times when we actually need our laptop or phone in meetings are approaching zero — especially in creative/brainstorm meetings, or reviews and critiques.
Just like having our phone on the table diminishes our engagement, a computer takes our attention. Make it a rule to ban technology during meetings. Your meetings will run faster, be more engaging, probably more productive, and you may even be able to have shorter or fewer meetings. A productivity win for everyone.
Learn more about how to become your most productive self.