How to focus on what’s important
All of us have periods of fevered productivity in which everything falls into place with ease; but sadly it is not always so. Our major projects bog us down and we are overwhelmed by an accumulation of day-to-day tasks.
At those times, as the fog of depression threatens to descend, you need to put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter and redirect your time and energy to what really matters; to focus on what’s important.
How to be more productive – the essentials
Focus on what’s important with a handy list
It is essential to have clear goals. Ask yourself some important questions about what is important to you or what excites you. List your 4 or 5 most important priorities and post them up where you can’t fail to see them; on your desk, your bathroom mirror or fridge door.
Identify the junk in your life
Next you need to identify what is actually wasting your time. To focus on what’s important, you must be consciously aware as to which activities are needlessly eating into your time; so, closely examine your behaviour and see if there are any activities on which you are spending time more out of habit than because they are worthwhile.
Stop all that multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is often portrayed as a positive skill but in some contexts it can actually prevent you from properly focusing on each task, decreasing the true quality of what you do.
In finding out how to be more productive, try to avoid running multiple tasks simultaneously by properly scheduling your most important tasks of the day and then concentrating on each, one after the other.
Stop the distractions.
Figure out what the 3 most distracting things are for you and how you can prevent them from stopping you working effectively. Some distraction reduction methods are surprisingly simple:
Shut your office door;
Mute your mobile and close down any email or instant messaging apps;
Use headphones to drown out external sound with music (or just use noise cancelling headphones);
Set a limit on your screen time, especially on visits to your favourite time-wasting sites!
Get yourself a system
Put some sort of a personal productivity system in place and, most importantly, hold yourself accountable to it. Find yourself a tried and tested system that works for you and your priorities and stick to it.
Be more Zen. In all areas of your life, negative emotions will distract you and will rob you of focus. If resentment, anger, hostility, hate, and jealousy fill your thoughts…STOP! Forgive past insults and losses and simply replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
But don’t just take it from me: Steve Jobs once said that focus and simplicity was his “mantra”; although simplicity is often harder than complexity, Jobs believed it to be worthwhile because once you have it, you can move mountains.
Enjoy moving yours!