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3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

Why does every day seem more stressful than the last?

You’ve busted your butt working mind-numbing hours, yet it feels like you accomplished nothing. At the end of the day, the same question always pop up. Where did all my time go?

In the morning, you start off fresh and ready to conquer the world. But when the evening creeps in, you barely touched your to-do list. You ask yourself, is it normal to always feel overwhelmed? When does it end? You think it’s impossible to catch up, but it’s not. You just need some help. Here’s three steps that will surprise you to achieve more:

Step #1- Use Facebook

Yes, you read it right. I’m telling you to use the second most distracted website, but for good reason. Here’s why:

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A study was conducted by the Academy of Management to find out which control groups were the most productive. In those groups, the most productive were the participants that used Facebook for 10 minutes. They found the Facebook group was 16 percent more productive than the group that wasn’t allowed to use the Internet. And nearly 40 percent more productive than the group that was allowed no breaks.

Have you ever wondered why we gravitate towards Facebook? We are inherently social creatures, regardless if we’re introverts or extroverts. By being social, we are happier, less stressful, and have the sense of belonging. When you need a break, use Facebook to catch up with an old friend or find out the latest scoop. The productivity problem that we encounter with social media is we don’t know when to stop browsing. How can we, when there’s picture of a cute cat jump-kicking a dog. And the attractive headline displaying “Cat Norris” doesn’t help either.

This is how you can stop. Set a timer for 10 minutes when you open Facebook. This next step is very important. After the timer,  do not click on that cat meme. Close Facebook.

Step # 2- Use Your Limited Resources Wisely

We are fully aware that time is a finite resource. We are only given 24 hours in a day. So best thing to do is make a detailed plan to maximize our time. And create goals to accomplish that day. This is how top elites operate. Sounds good right.

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But there’s this one itzy bitzy problem. We have another finite resource. It’s called energy. That’s why a lot of productivity articles suggest taking breaks, sleeping eight hours, and eating well. It’s to increase our energy. Lets face it. We are most productive when we have a lot of energy and motivation.

Some CEOs intentionally block their schedule when they have a lot of energy. And typically it’s during the morning.  Top performers like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner have implemented this approach. If you want high achievement and big results, you need big and high energy. Knowing how to get it and keep it, well that’s the tricky part.

Here are some ways you can jumpstart your energy:

  • Listen to music- It’s activates dopamine, reduces stress, and lightens your mood.
  • Make your environment filled with energy- Put a picture of your family in your desk area. Have your favorite quote in view. Maybe use the cat meme (that you didn’t click on) as your desktop screensaver. Put your goals right on your wall to remember why you’re working hard.
  • Change your physiology- Motion creates emotion. When we find ourselves frustrated, knock out some pushups. Force a smile for five minutes straight, or take a short walk. You’ll be surprised how changing your physiology quickly charges your energy levels.

Step #3- Burn Your To-list

The problem with to-do list is we treat every task equally. Productivity is not about being efficient, it’s about being effective. To be effective, you need to figure out your most important task. Successful people are successful because they focus on the most important task and say no to everything else.

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That’s why you need to burn your to-do list and create a success list. A list that consist of one item. That item is the most important task of the day. The task that if you completed today will have the biggest impact on your work.

Yes we need to pay the bills, do the laundry, and everything else to maintain our lives. But if we don’t focus on the most important task, everything else will feel like a waste.

Having the Most Productive Day Ever

Instead of going home frustrated. You went home feeling uplifted and accomplished. Because you focused on what matters most rather than crossing off some list.

You will be the type of person who goes to work with a big goofy smile while everyone looks like they came out of a funeral parlor. Maybe someone at work wants to slap that smile. Nonetheless, you earned that smile. Because you learned to connect with others through Facebook. And you learned to increase your energy. Possibly, higher energy than a six-year old eating a bag full of halloween candy. Okay… Maybe not.

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But you will be happier, better, and more productive.

Featured photo credit: KaboomPics via kaboompics.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

5. Learn to Say “No”

I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

7. Be Intentional

The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

The Bottom Line

The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

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Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

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