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7 Ways to Focus on What Really Matters

7 Ways to Focus on What Really Matters

Do you easily lose sight of the things that really matter in your life?

Do you always feel as if you’re constantly jumping from one thing to another throughout the day without having anything to show for your efforts?

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Here are seven ways to focus on what really matters, right here, right now.

Set three important tasks to complete each and every day.

Your to-do list may be a mile long, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be selective about what you are going to accomplish today. Make a point to set aside three important and/or time-sensitive tasks to complete each and every day. These tasks can be from different or similar areas of your life. For example, you might choose to include one work-related, one personal and one household task for your list, or you might decide to mix up the task types entirely. No matter which tasks you choose, make sure you are focusing on those tasks that should be done sooner rather than later.

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Seek to provide value in all that you do.

There’s a big difference between something that is done well versus something that is done poorly. Quality of work always speaks for itself, whether it is attention paid to detail, error- or mistake-free work, items that are sturdily constructed with top-grade materials or well thought-out and complete ideas and concepts. Instead of dashing through your work just to get it done, think about how you can bring or enhance the value of your own work. Can you put in a little bit more of your time and energy to make your work stand out? There’s no denying a job well done.

Plan for the long-term.

Instead of focusing on life’s little distractions or annoyances, take a step back and shift your focus to the long term. What goals would you like to achieve a month, a year, five years or ten years from now? Write down your goal in specific, measurable details, including the date you want to reach your goal, how you will know when you reach your goal as well as the specific steps you will take to reach it.

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Have a clear vision.

Is your mind muddled with lots of different ideas, projects or to-dos? The easiest way to get distracted is having too much information floating around in your head at one time. Get all of those thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper or on a computer screen so you can view them objectively. How many different thoughts or ideas do you have? Which items are the most time-sensitive or require more time to complete? See if you can narrow down all of your thoughts to one single vision you are willing to work towards starting right now.

Create a dedicated vision board, planner or calendar.

If you’re having trouble seeing the big picture you might want to consider setting up a vision board or a separate calendar or schedule to remind yourself of what really matters and is important in your life. You can pull out the board whenever you need a reminder without being distracted by all of your regular to-dos and tasks.

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Schedule regular weekly check-ins.

One of the best ways to stay focused is to consistently review your goals. Make a point to schedule regular check-ins for yourself each week to check up on your progress. Ask yourself whether you kept on track towards your goals or if you were sidetracked during the week. What items can you seek to correct for the following week?

Set aside some time for yourself.

It’s hard to know what to focus on if you’re constantly in motion, running from one thing to another. Try taking some down time just for yourself. Read a good book, watch the tide come in at the beach, go for a walk in the park, or just sit quietly at home. Spending some time alone can help put things in perspective.

How are you going to stay focused on what really matters to you in your life? Leave a comment below.

Featured photo credit: Focus/toolstop via flickr.com

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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