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Tag Archives: the power of focus

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

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Couple of good articles on the power of focus, the nature of motivation, and the importance of regular breaks:

Stop Being So Damn Productive

With mental tasks, productivity doesn’t increase linearly with time worked. Every hour spent working hard is a tax on the next hour you want to spend working hard. And so on until you can spend hours, even days, working without achieving.

Remember the quote “You speak a lot, but you don’t say much”? Same goes for working a lot.

http://lifehacker.com/5867102/stop-being-so-damn-productive

The Trick to Accomplishing More by Doing Less

Multitasking all day is not as productive as working in 90 minute stretches with 15-20 minute breaks (or even a nap) and a real lunch break.

http://lifehacker.com/5867995/the-secret-to-accomplishing-more-by-doing-less-take-breaks

How Rewards Can Make You Hate Something You Love

“Many people—including us—have argued that doing what you love and getting paid for it is the holy grail of life achievements, but in reality we tend to get discouraged when presented with the possibility that we’re only doing something for the money.”

http://lifehacker.com/5868585/how-rewards-can-make-you-hate-something-you-love

I would ascribe a different interpretation to the observed phenomenon: that, when getting paid to do something, you have to do it.  You have to do it to a schedule, and you have to do it to somebody else’s satisfaction.  When the task is no longer enjoyable, you have to keep doing it to completion.  Whereas, when you do something purely for enjoyment, you only do it for as long as it is enjoyable to you.

Applications to motivation and procrastination.

-Johnny 0.

Daily Report: Wed.Oct.13,2010.

Yesterday was excellent.  I used an actual wind-up mechanical timer to create 30min periods of focus on one task, and rewarding myself with guilt-free breaks after each one.  Not only did I get more work done in one day than I have in a long time, but I also realized that I totally under-estimate how long things take to get done!  I was going to write two reports yesterday; in fact, I got half-a report done.  No wonder I’m always missing deadlines.

“Timers keep you honest about time.”  No kidding.  I’m going to keep using the mechanical timer today.  In fact, I hope to keep this up for 3 weeks (it’s the ol’ “it takes 3 weeks to adopt a new good habit” thing).

For the record, the big, chunky, ticking, impossible-to-ignore mechanical timer works better than the little app that i was using before and that sat quietly in my system tray until it went off.

Wishing you all high productivity, low stress and guilt-free breaks!

-Johnny 0.

I’m quite sure that hunters & gatherers and early agrarians never struggled with procrastination.  Hunger is a strong motivator.  But we in the modern age have to battle our human natures in order to sit still and be “productive” for eight hours a day.

Here are some good reasons to use a timer at work.  Use a Timer as a Productivity Booster and Sanity Minder (Lifehacker.com).  You should read the article.  I’m just going to summarize it here for my own reference:

  • Timers are Workload Containment Units
  • Timers enforce commitment to one task
  • Timers keep you honest about time
  • Timers make breaks better

Good advice.  Cross reference with “the power of focus,” and “work will expand to fill the time allotted to it.”  Let’s be careful out there folks, and don’t forget to prioritize.

Well, time to get back to work.  Tick tick tick…

-Johnny 0.