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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 7 – The David Allen Company

The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 7 – The David Allen Company

The most awesomest, ubiquitous capture tool around.

    Today is another day of Lifehack’s 12 Days of Giveaways where we feature some of the best productivity services, apps, and products that you can get your hands on. We really appreciate all of the entries so far this week and last, and after today’s awesome prizes from the David Allen Company we only have one week left. Don’t worry though; today there are three chances to win!

    Before we get to what we and David Allen Company are giving away, let’s first announce and congratulate the winner of The Womack Company prize pack. Andrea Aresca, had this awesome comment here at Lifehack.org:

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    “I will be more INTENTIONAL in defining what I want to achieve in every “account” of my life.
    I will be more SPECIFIC in describing the outcome of each one of my projects.
    I will make the habit of FOCUSING a bit extra time daily on 1 very important thing I’ve chosen the day before.”

    We at Lifehack hope that The Womack Company products are going to help you out in the new year, Andrea. Congratulations!

    Today’s Giveaway

    I’m very excited about today’s giveaway because I am a devout user of it and have been for about a year now. And, since we are in the spirit of giving, it feels great to share the awesomeness and ubiquitousness (it’s a word now!) of the David Allen Notetaker Wallet with 3 Lifehack readers.

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    First, The David Allen Company is a, “global training and consulting company, widely considered the leading authority in the fields of organizational and personal productivity,” as if you didn’t know. But, really, The David Allen Company and the GTD system (something that we are quite fond of here at Lifehack.org) are almost synonymous.

    If you are a GTD follower in any way and have listened to Mr. David Allen wax about GTD outside of his books, then you have surely heard of his infamous Notetaker Wallet. The “evening module” or “UCT” (ubiquitous capture tool), as David Allen has aptly called the notetaker wallet, is a sturdy accessory with an awesome little paper pad and a “wicked cool” expandable pen. If you are a knowledge worker, or just someone that wants to get the next great idea, thing to pick up from the store, or current project’s next action out of your mind and into your system so you can concentrate on the work at hand anywhere you are, then you seriously need this tool.

    Also, these wallets are super high quality. My Ballistics style wallet is the strongest wallet I have ever owned.

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    So, what are we giving away?

    That’s right. The David Allen Company isn’t messing around and you won’t be either when you turn into a ubiquitous capturing machine with your new GTD Notetaker Wallet in 2012.

    How to Enter

    In order to enter to win one of the three GTD Notetaker Wallets, you need to leave a comment below or on our Facebook fan page that answers the following:

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    “How will the addition of a ubiquitous capture tool enhance your productivity this coming year?”

    Leaving a comment on both our Facebook fan page and here at Lifehack.org will get you 2 entries, so but you need to give us two items that you like the most – no copying and pasting!

    The Fine Print

    Employees of The David Allen Company and of Stepcase (including current independent contractors of both) are not eligible for this contest. The winning entries will be judged by the Stepcase Lifehack editing team and winners will be notified on the platform in which their winning entry was placed (either on the Lifehack.org Facebook wall or by email through our commenting system here on the website). For those entering the contest with a comment on our site, in order to be considered eligible, you MUST leave a contact email when leaving a comment (it’s the only way we’ll know how to contact you). Entries must be submitted by 10 am Eastern the following weekday (Monday 12/19/2011)  and winners will be chosen by 12 pm Eastern time on the same day. The winners will be announced the same day on Lifehack.org, and will be notified beforehand. The David Allen Company will ship you your Notetaker Wallet flat rate (even Internationally). The item will be marked as a “gift” and the winner will have to pay an taxes that are required by their country.

    Good luck!

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2019

    How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

    How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

    We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

    With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

    So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

    1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

    Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

    So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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    You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

    If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

    Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

    2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

    Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

    Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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    Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

    Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

    3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

    If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

    This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

    Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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    When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

    If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

    Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

    4. Get up and Move

    We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

    When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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    If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

    Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

    It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

    Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

    The Bottom Line

    It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

    Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

    More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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