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4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


    Are you doing a task but without a 100% focus on it? Then later you realize that you have to go back to that task and fix the work because you were unfocused?

    If you are experiencing this, you have wasted your time and you are bringing unnecessary stress upon yourself. What is distracting you? Why do you tend to focus less than 100% on your task when you take action?

    Here are few reasons:

    1. You are tired.

    Working tired is perhaps something we are all guilty of – yet we do a task, thinking that we can perform it as well as if we were alert. Unfortunately this is not true.

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    Previously I have been guilty of this too; I began working tired and then the next day I had to go back and fix things, because I was not focusing enough initially.

    Fortunately, I have learned from those mistakes and I now understand to quit working if I’m too tired to concentrate.

    Some of the great ways to fix your tiredness is to:

    • Take powernaps (20 minutes max)
    • Make sure that you get enough sleep (this depends of the person)
    • Make sure your bedroom is dark and chilly enough
    • Exercise regularly (but not immediately before going to sleep)
    • Avoid eating heavy meals a few hours before going to bed

    2. You are not motivated to do the task.

    Another cause for distraction is that you are not motivated to do the task in the first place.  Your mind wanders and you are not producing the best work quality that you are capable of.

    If you are not motivated, you have to figure out why you are doing the task in the first place:

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    • If that task belongs to your job, then you just have to deal with it since it’s part of the work. On the other hand, you can always discuss the situation with your boss – maybe you two will be able to come up with a solution for your issue.
    • If the task is set by the law (like reporting your taxes to authorities), then there is nothing you can do about it – you just have to do the task even if you don’t like it (making sure to do it sooner than later).
    • If the mundane work belongs to your personal project, you might consider outsourcing it for someone else, automating it or even questioning yourself: “Is this task really necessary?”
    • Finally, if you have no justification for the task and it is not mandatory to do – then why are you doing it at all?

    3. You are distracted both physically and mentally.

    Distraction exists on many levels and it’s one of the biggest reasons for underperforming in your work.

    Not only is electronic distraction (e-mails, social media or Internet in general) ruining your work focus, it is also the physical and mental distraction that’s causing you to work with partial focus and achieve partial results.

    First, you should find a place where you can fully focus on your task. This could be a library, coffee shop or out in the park.  Also, make sure you have all the electronic distractions like e-mail, cell phone or instant messaging turned off.

    Second, if it’s your mind that’s causing you to underperform, make sure that you are fully rested, you are not hungry when you work and that you are not going through any type of emotional rollercoaster.

    The fact is that all of these can increase your distraction level thus decreasing the chance of optimum output.

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    4. You don’t know how to do it.

    There is nothing more frustrating than trying to work on a task, but you don’t have a clue how to do it. If your skills are not enough for the task, then you are going to face a rough times trying to complete it while keeping your deadlines.

    In a situation like this, you can reach out to other people.

    In a day job situation, let the project manager or your boss know about the situation and have a chat together to figure out what to do (do you need mentoring or other colleagues to help you out?).

    If this is your personal project or hobby we are talking about, you have to be willing to ask for help. I bet there are many people out there who have encountered a similar situation like you before.

    Simply by asking, you can solve many frustrations and produce quality work.

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    Be “almost perfect”

    When you decide to work on a task, make sure that the conditions surrounding you are as enjoyable and relaxing as possible (see the steps a-d above).

    It is important to be “as perfect as possible.” In other words, whenever you perform a task, execute it with 100% commitment and focus. This means that you are doing the best you can with your current conditions and skillset.

    Instead of aiming for perfection when executing your work steps, try to have perfect focus instead. This ensures that you produce quality work with the least amount of wasted time and energy.

    Conclusion

    It is important to realize that working with less than 100% focus is an inefficient way to complete tasks. In the worst case, you have to go back and fix errors – something that could have been avoided if you were focused from the get-go.

    When you work on your task, make sure that the environment supports your productivity. This means cutting the online connections for a while, and if necessary, moving to a separate physical location while you work.

    Finally, having a calm, rested mind is also a great way to tackle mental distraction. To increase your chances even more for great results, make sure you body is fed properly before you start working.

    (Photo credit: Bored Young Businessman via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on November 3, 2020

    How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

    How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

    It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

    The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

    Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

    Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

    What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

    The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

    Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

    “Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

    This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

    There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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    Eisenhower Matrix Template

      The quadrants are:

      • Do
      • Schedule
      • Delegate
      • Eliminate

      Do

      Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

      Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

      Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

      Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

      Here’s a practical example.

      Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

      Schedule

      The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

      They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

      You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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      Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

      Delegate

      The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

      These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

      You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

      You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

      Eliminate

      The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

      Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

      They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

      Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

      Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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      Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

      Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

      “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

      How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

      Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

      1. List and Rank Your Priorities

      Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

      Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

      2. Define the Value

      The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

      You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

      3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

      Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

      Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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      If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

      4. Know What’s Important to You

      As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

      Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

      Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

      “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

      5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

      YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

      Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

      Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

      6. Know When to Stop

      You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

      Conclusion

      It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

      Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

      More Tips on Prioritizing

      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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