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Skyrocket Your Productivity in 60s

Skyrocket Your Productivity in 60s

Your to do list is endless. It’s overwhelming. You don’t even know where to begin. In fact, half the time you’re so overwhelmed you don’t begin.

We often spend so much time in the midst of the rat race that we never stop and ask – “Am I heading in the right direction?”

My purpose in writing this article is twofold. First, I am going to share a question that can revolutionize your productivity and effectiveness. Second, I will explain how to implement it into your life.

The Question That Can Revolutionize Your Life

Here it is: “What is the highest value activity I can do right now?”

Before we jump into tackling how to implement this question let’s discuss it.

First, let’s define “high value.” High value activities are those things that will lead to an increase in your bottom line. If you are in sales, you want more sales. If you are a blogger, you want more subscribers. If you are a coach, you want more clients.

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Next, let’s define “activity.” Activities are the actions you must take which will lead to the increase in your bottom line. For example if you are in sales, this can mean reaching out to new prospects. If you’re a blogger, it can be developing content. If you are a coach, it can be creating a specific product.

The last portion of the question is incredibly important. Notice it says “right now.” We have to take into consideration 1) how much time we have and 2) our current energy level. The worst thing you can do is try to take on a task that requires immense focus and time but you only have 30 minutes and you’re dead tired.

So putting it all together – your job is to identify the single most important action you can take right at this moment.

Now, let’s discuss how to implement it.

How to Implement the Question in Your Daily Life 

1. Ask the question to start your workday.

As soon as you get to work and sit at your desk (or wherever you initially start the day), take a deep breath and then ask yourself: “What is the highest value activity I can do right now?”

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2. Think for 60 seconds.

As soon as you ask yourself the question, immediately start a timer. Allow yourself 60 seconds to think about the answer. Don’t write anything, talk to anyone, or do any other tasks.

Most often, the highest value task will immediately come to the forefront of your mind.

3. Write it down. 

After the 60 seconds are up, write the following on a post-it note, a planner, a piece of paper, anything you will be looking at over the course of the day:

“The single most important thing I can do right now is: ________”

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There are a few reasons it is important to write this down. There is an abundance of research that shows when we write things down we are more likely to do them. On top of this, by writing it down you have now provided a concrete message to your subconscious “This is important and I must get it done.” Lastly, you are exposing yourself to this message for a second and third time (the first time is when you thought about it, the second time is writing it, and the third time is reading it).

Combine all of these and it becomes incredibly powerful to write it out.

4. Immediately start on the task.

Without any other thought – immediately begin on the task. By taking action, you will establish momentum.

Since you have identified this as your highest value activity, it will be incredibly inspiring and motivating.

5. Complete the task and repeat steps 2 through 4. 

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Once you have completed the task (or finished as much as is possible) – go through the exact same process with your next activity.

You can do this as often as you like throughout the day. Ideally, you would do it after every activity.

Conclusion

Here is the reality – most of us rush through our day without taking any time to step back and ask what we should be doing. By simply taking 60 seconds out of your day, you can revolutionize your productivity and effectiveness.

Imagine how effective you could be if you were constantly working on the most important thing possible.

Featured photo credit:  Under the space rocket via Shutterstock

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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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