How focused are you? (Part2)
Tuesday 15th August 2017
“How focused are you”? was the post I started yesterday and I’ve had a few requests to go deeper, especially from Helen Adams an old friend who just said only.1!
So, let’s start with what you know matters, by being honest with yourself about actions that truly move your business and your life forward. The Pareto principle (known as the 80/20 rule) is a suitable place to start. If you’re stuck, just think of the tasks you fear the most–that give you anxiety just to think about. Those are likely the most important.
Look at working on your top 2-3 core tasks each day. These are the very important tasks you must do first no matter what. When you’ve completed them, your day has been a success I advise my clients to do no more than three, or better yet one. This helps you move closer to your big goals. Checking email does not count; try to stick to what I said yesterday first thing in the morning, mid-day and 30 minutes before you leave your office.
If it is truly possible try not to connect to anything until your core tasks are completed. Don’t convince yourself you need the internet or email to do your most important tasks. 95% of the time you don’t. Leave the internet off and phone on airplane mode until you finish those important tasks.
Don’t do multitasking. Concentrate on the work in or task on hand it’s more efficient. Don’t do any surfing of the net during phone calls, reading during your meals, no chatting while writing. Do one thing at a time efficiently. Not only is multitasking terribly inefficient but it stresses you out and it’s rude to anyone around you.
Turn off email and notifications (and anything else that interrupts you). When you sit down to do tasks, nothing else should get in your way, the task needs your full attention. Just because someone decides to email, come in and chat or perhaps telephone you, doesn’t mean it’s more important. Those things can wait, but if you know they are waiting there, you’ll be too tempted. Avoid temptation at all cost. We are all weak. I don’t trust myself with email on my mobile phone so I totally removed it.
Batch your emailing to those times I’ve mentioned before AND STICK TO THEM each day. If you need an email for your core task, don’t go to your inbox. Go straight to the search feature and find it. If you need to write an email as a core task (which should very rarely be the case), write it offline in a simple program like notepad. Save reactionary items for after you get the important things done.
Try to get less done in a day practice Slow Working. Don’t fill every moment of your calendar with tasks. You’ll be stressed and rushed the entire day. Slow down and move through your core tasks calmly, then maybe you can do a few more things with the remaining time but don’t cram them in. If you do, you’ll always feel behind. Plan more time for each task. This is the easiest way to alleviate the schedule. Things always tend to take longer than you think. If your core task will take you 45 minutes, then block out 90. Schedule it on your calendar. If it only takes you 40 minutes then suddenly you have free time–how awesome (and rare) is that!
Take breaks and reward yourself. Most of us can only intensely focus on something for an hour at best. Take at least a few minutes break every 30 or 60 minutes to clear your head. I love just looking out of my study window watching the ships and other vessels going up and down the River Mersey. Taking a few deep breaths and that view calms me down making my life worth living. Find unusual ways to get your mind free and clear. Some people will just take a walk, meditate, feed the ducks, breathe, get a snack or some water or listen to an inspiring song. For me writing is one of my relaxing actions, so I write for an hour or so after my morning workout. The longer you wait, the more distractions will intrude. Nothing happens before these get done.
Do the above and your day will be a victory before most people wake up. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. You’ll get way more done than you planned but your mind and schedule will also be clear to enjoy life a little more. Few things feel worse than an unproductive day. Nail your important things early and use that energy to take the rest of the day by storm. Take a walk with your wife, play with your kids, go down to the beach or read. Do whatever you want. That’s the point.