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Tag Archives: focus

I’ve been writing a post every day, just a quick note on my work habits and what thought patterns or external conditions are affecting them (you haven’t seen them because they’re marked “Private”).  It’s helping me to recognize what helps me focus (a good night’s sleep) and what throws me off the rails (having to make a tough decision).  I’m finding it helpful.

Here’s today’s nugget of wisdom.  A few minutes of down time really helps me to re-focus.

I often find myself staring at the screen, sleepily wondering what I should be working on.  I semi-consciously scroll through my inbox or gaze at my old to-do list, half the items crossed off, unable to make a decision.  Without a clear sense of priority, I too often just start goofing off instead of working.

Contrast that with today: on my way back from a morning meeting, I turned off the radio and just let my mind wander (that part of my mind which wasn’t engaged in driving!).  Pretty soon I was thinking about what else I wanted to accomplish today when i got back to the office.  I was remembering things that I want to get done, mentally prioritizing them, and even started to work on one of them in my head!  When I got home, I quickly scribbled out a prioritized to-do list and dove into work on it.

I should take some time every day to do nothing.  Not a web-comic break,  but really to do nothing.  A ten-minute walk, or a sit in the back yard to listen to the birds.  Followed by a bit of thought on what else I want to accomplish that day.

Learning Of The Day: Possibly the greatest aid to focus and self-discipline is
A Good Night’s Sleep.

-J

First of all, TRO is working really well for me.  It’s not that this system is magically better than everything else I’ve tried.  The difference is in what I’m doing now that I wasn’t doing before: consistent daily and weekly reviews of my tasks and priorities.

Second: Here are a few of the most important ideas about personal productivity that I’ve discovered lately, neatly summarized in one short article:
HBR – The Magic Of Doing One Thing At A Time

  • Focus is powerful.  We can accomplish more, and more creatively, when we focus on one thing without distraction for a decent period of time.
  • Breaks are important.  After a period of focused effort, take a break to renew yourself before plunging in again.  You’ll actually be more productive in the long run than if you didn’t take breaks at all.
  • Work on your most important project first thing in the morning.  “You’re relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of creative energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.”
  • Set aside time to think long-term and strategically, on a regular basis.

Good advice.

-J

Practice Prioritization, Focus, and
Healthy Breaks instead of Distractions.

Lately I’ve read a lot of articles and spoken to a few people about productivity.  A few common themes keep popping up.

First, Go Directly To Work.

Don’t start your day by checking your email.  You get dragged into someone else’s priorities, or you allow yourself to indulge in lengthy personal conversations.  Instead, start your day by opening your most important task first.  And “a quick win in the morning sets the right tone for the rest of the day.” (Jonathan at Illuminated Mind)  This is a great habit to develop.

Just Start

Starting is often the hardest part of a task.  Just starting, without over-thinking things, moves you past the anxiety that you’re holding for that task, and gets you immersed in the project again.  Once you’ve started, things are clearer and less scary.  I am hearing this advice from a lot of different sources lately, and it’s good advice.

Resolving to finish something is a big scary goal.  Just resolve to start.  Then start.  Then keep starting – it gets easier – until it’s finished.

The Power of Focus

Forget multitasking.  Constant distractions and task-switching leads to shallow thinking and makes creativity impossible.  Spend as much of your day as possible on your #1 priority.  This doesn’t mean don’t take breaks – just don’t spread your energy around.  Make sure your breaks are actually rejuvenating.

Actively control distractions.  Change your environment if you have to.  Lock out access to Facebook and other highly-addictive entertainments.

Goals

I should have specific, clearly-defined, prioritized goals.  With deadlines.  And plans.  I don’t have these.  Why should I have these?

Visualize

Imagine yourself living by the habits that you most want to cultivate.  Don’t imagine yourself as rich and successful, that can lead to disappointment.    This is about how you live and work, day to day.  And remind yourself every day about your long-term goals, and how today’s tasks serve those goals.

“I try to spend the first few minutes of my day thinking about the life that I’m creating, the people that I’m serving and why I care about what I do. Keeping those things in the front of my mind helps me stay synced with my reason why.” (Jonathan at Illuminated Mind, again)

Although I don’t believe that anyone produces their BEST work under pressure,

It’s good to be reminded once in a while of

How well you CAN FOCUS and How FAST you can WORK.

-J