Productivity Tip #1: Narrow Your Focus
September 24th, 2013
This is the first post in my productivity series. Being productive is more than just checking items off your to-do list. Productivity is the efficient use of your resources. Time and energy are your biggest resources and you must choose how you want to use them. All the productivity tips in the world won’t matter if you are unfocused and wasting time on things that don’t make you move you further ahead in your career, happiness, fitness or fulfillment.
There are always a million things that we could be doing but we must choose our top priorities and as much as possible restrict our time to these things. Choose the areas in your life where you want to be excellent and be diligent about directing your time and energy into these areas.
On a day-to-day basis, focus means staying on task and avoiding multitasking. Every time you stop to check your email, you have to refocus and it can take several minutes to get your train of thought back. One research study showed that up to 28% of workers’ time was spent on interruptions and recovery time[i].
What could you do with 28% more time in your work day?
Some of the strategies I use to focus are having a single window open and signing out of my email when I’m working on other things. Email and social media can be such huge productivity drains that I’ve dedicated an entire upcoming post to manage them.
You can use apps like “Write or Die” to force you to keep writing or timers to remind you that time is literally ticking away. If you are having trouble with distracting websites you can block them at certain times. These apps and more are featured in my free report on the top 15 productivity tools.
Some of the less technological tips that help are having a clutter-free work space and writing down any off-topic tasks you think of as you are working. Writing down your mental to-do lists frees up your brain to fully concentrate on the task at hand.
When you are focussed on things that are important to you, you are less likely to be distracted or to procrastinate. I find it useful to have a vision board that shows me my ultimate goals and reminds me what I’m working towards.
Everyone talks about being “busy, busy, busy” but too often we’re busy with unimportant things. Focus on your priorities and your strengths.
Steve Jobs was a visionary who understood the importance of focus. He was once quoted as saying, “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
[i] Spira, J.B and Feintuch, J.B., “The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity,” Basex, 2005.
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