I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself having to be very disciplined about staying focused lately. Part of it is the challenge of being in self isolation at the moment. Part of it is having so many things I could be doing. And part of it is, like many, I have been pushing hard for months now.
I’ve also seen the challenges that leaders are facing to keep themselves focused and making the difference they want to. Working from home, continuing changes in working situations, keeping up with the demands of your team, your manager, customers, and providers, and of course the change to daily life is a lot to deal with. It is not surprising that there are moments when your attention wanders, you are less productive than you would like, or you feel like you’re wading through molasses to make any kind of progress.
Here are 3 simple mind hacks to keep you focused on the important so you can optimise your time…and bring some balance back to your life.
1. Become Indistractable – Create a super focus.
Rather than being crazy busy, be crazy optimised.
Use your calendar to manage your time and attention and get rid of your To Do list. This allows you to declutter your brain by letting go of the things that do not matter.
The idea is to streamline your activity with a clear plan and committed time in your calendar to work on the things you have decided warrant the investment of your attention and energy.
Generate super focus for yourself.
One thing at a time. No more multitasking. This requires that you ONLY focus on the important, impactful, value adding activity. Nothing else.
Of course, leave space for important things that come up…but cease doing busy work.
And avoid over committing yourself. Recognise how long activities take to complete and commit this time into your calendar.
Maintain your boundaries around when you start and finish work, or how much of your time you want to commit to your working life if you are working flexibly.
Because you focus only on the important you make the most of your time and energy. You are optimised and impactful.
When you know what you are doing, when and how important it is…you can say no to distractions. Follow the discipline and you become Indistractable.
2. Choose Pomodoro not Procrastascrolling
How often do you find yourself procrastascrolling?
Do you tell yourself you are looking for something valuable…just a few more minutes, a few more sites, a couple more searches, another couple of swipes?
Are you procrastascrolling to avoid doing something else? And suddenly minutes, then hours have passed?
One technique that can help you be more productive and effective is to utilise a pomodoro approach for your activity. The Pomodoro technique is designed to get you started.
You work in 25 minute periods of intense focus, followed by 5 minutes of something else. Something else that changes the pace for you. This might be making a phone call, taking a stretch break, getting a cuppa before returning to the next pomodoro of 25 minutes. After 3 or 4 Pomodoro’s, take a longer 15-30 minute break.
Recognising that we need to take breaks and change the pace is essential to operating at your best. If you use a pomodoro approach you know that you will get a break soon, so you can start your activity and go hard now. Even if you need to focus on an activity you do not enjoy, it won’t last for long…then you get to do something else.
Using a timer will help you stick to your focused activity.
So rather than procrastascrolling, get on with things using a pomodoro approach. Use this technique to create focus and optimise your time.
And remember there is power in the pause between pomodoro sessions.
3. Dress The Part
Years ago, when I was working for a big telecommunications company I wore a suit to work most days. Then casual Friday was introduced.
I had a lot more fun on casual Fridays ….. and was completely unproductive.
I knew it.
I thought it was a bit strange that I struggled to just get on with my work because I was in different clothes on Fridays.
My friend, Faye Hollands, reminded me of this during the week. And guess what? I did not make this up. It is a real thing called ‘Enclothed Cognition’ which relates to the effect clothing has on a person’s psychology.
A 2012 study by Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky showed that the symbolic meaning of the clothes you’re wearing impacts the way you think and behave, along with the way that you feel.
Even today I can tell that what I am wearing impacts my focus. So I need to choose my clothes based on my intention for the day.
Why do I raise this? So many people are finding themselves in a work from home environment and the way they dress has changed from when they were in the workplace. This may be impacting your focus and productivity…. And not necessarily for the better.
If this is the case for you, consider what might need to change about your clothing to support your focus. Maybe wearing a hoodie everyday does not help your productivity after all…no matter how comfy it is.
You need to let your mind know that you have real work to do today. So dress the part.
Which one of these mind hacks will help you increase your focus and optimise your time?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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