5 ways to more focus

“He well knew his mind’s natural tendency to be endlessly on a thousand subjects at once, to flit from this to that and to the next thing to no particular purpose–indeed, he called it his “butterfly mind.”
― Eric Metaxas

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What do you focus on? One of a thousand things running around in your mind all screaming for attention or something else?

More than ever before distractions are taking a toll on productivity, getting results that matter.   People are trying to keep all the things they want to do in their mind and their mind is the worst place to keep a list of things.   The mind wants to give attention to every item and in an effort not to forget it latches on to one thing for a brief period of time and then lets it go to grab on to something else.   It is trying to remember what you want to remember and cycling through that list and on occasion you’ll grab one of those items and start working on it only to let it go to grab onto something else.   It’s not a very good use of your time and it doesn’t allow you to finish what you started.

You might be able to hold onto a few things in your mind, perhaps seven items before things start careening out of control.   Be on time to the meeting, make a phone call, write the report, make sure you prepared for the meeting, fix the problem that suddenly came up and …, everything wants your attention.

To get the best results requires focus and limiting (setting boundaries) that work for you.  So, let’s look at 5 ways to increase focus and get better results.

1. Prepare and Plan

2. Prioritize

3. Stick to the schedule

4. Energize

5. Reflect

Prepare and Plan – At the beginning of the day sort out what really needs to be done.  Write them down.   If the list is really long then figure out what can be done today.   What are the top six things that need to be addressed?   Figure out how long each item will take to complete.  Be realistic, most people tend to be very optimistic on what they can accomplish.

Prioritize – Figure out what is most important to do.  Do the hardest thing when you have the most energy.  For some people the morning is their best time and for others it might be the afternoon.  Figure out when you will have the most energy and do the hardest work then.   Do the easy things when your willpower and drive is lower.

Stick to the schedule – you created the plan and now distractions are coming in from others and they want your attention and time.  In order to be highly productive focus on the results you need for today.  What can you say “No” to?  What can you defer?   How can you manage distractions so they don’t reduce your effectiveness?  Create the discipline to focus on what you need to do and set fixed boundaries around your time.   At the end of the day getting the right results matter.

Energize - take time to restore your energy.  90 minutes of full-out effort is about the maximum one can focus and concentrate on one thing for most people.   In that time the brain will consume a lot of energy and you’ll need to recharge.   To recharge get up and move – take in some deep breaths and do something to get the blood flowing.  Take a walk for 10 minutes, run up a flight of stairs, do something that will get your blood moving.    Then refuel with water and the right kinds of foods (nuts, fruits, vegetables).

Reflect - At the end of the day take a few minutes to evaluate what you accomplished.  Write down the things you did complete and check to see if those things were estimated well and if the task was easy or hard to complete.   Note the number of distractions and where they came from (customers, managers, co-workers, others).   What was draining your time?   What things were taking you away from being productive?  How many of those things kept you from getting the right results?   Use these lessons to plan better for the next day.

High achievers build into their lives the habits that generate the best results.  With practice you can become a high achiever.

 

do live your dream

“Be thankful for a breath of fresh air to be alive and well. Allow love and happiness to penetrate throughout your mind and soul. Take time to relax and live in the moment, the now, the present. Enjoy today.”
― Amaka Imani Nkosazana

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Did you know that most people don’t live their dreams?   Some people live the dreams that others have for them and live a life of regret.  Others don’t have a dream to push towards and live each day as it comes and live a life of regret.    Whose dreams are you living for?

Someone asked, “Write a story.”

“A story about what?”

“A story about your life”

“A story about my life – what is there to tell.”

If someone asked you to write your story or to tell your story what would you say?   What do you want to say?   What do you want to write?

Wouldn’t it be nice to write, “I lived my dreams.”

“What were your dreams … tell me more.”

“Umm, I didn’t live my dreams … I ….”

Now, do you want that to be your story?   Do you want your story to end with, “I didn’t ….?”   Most people don’t want their story to end at a dead end street.  I am thinking that you don’t want your story to end their either.

So, why not build a story by living out your dream.   If you don’t have a compelling vision of your future then it’s time to create one.   It’s time to start writing your story that doesn’t end with “I didn’t”.

Start writing your story today.

in 10 minutes I can

“The world’s greatest achievers have been those who have always stayed focused on their goals and have been consistent in their efforts.”
― Roopleen

rat race

What can you do in 10 minutes?

- Plan the day
- Put the dishes away
- Clean the bathroom
- Fold clothes
- Encourage someone
- Walk the dog
- Exercise
- Breathe
- Drink a glass of water
- Write down your thoughts
- Stretch
- Make a commitment
- Learn something new
- Help someone else
- Call a friend
- Thank someone
- Take a moment to appreciate something
- Journal
- Reflect on a lesson

There is a lot that can be done in 10 minutes to improve your life, your day or  your week.  In the busyness of everyday life it is easy to neglect the idea that 10 minutes can make a huge difference in personal or professional productivity.

Planning is perhaps the most important activity to complete as it helps you determine what is important and what isn’t important to work on.   The plans would allow you to create blocks of time in the day to complete important work, focused work, or a single activity where you put your best attention.

What things can you do in 10 minutes?    If you have things you haven’t started on use the 10 minute test and just do 10 minutes of an activity and see how far you get.

Do what you  can in a 10 minute sprint – you’ll be surprised.

 

better results through better planning

“The majority of people don’t want to plan. They want to be free of the responsibility of planning. What they ask for is merely some assurance that they will be decently provided for. The rest is a day-to-day enjoyment of life.”

B.F. Skinner

Idea, plan, action

One thing that I find that is pretty consistent is that people with plans experience better results and enjoy greater happiness.

A simple plan written down will create space to achieve results.  Set your day up for success.  Write down the goals you want to achieve and then schedule those goals.  Block out time for those specific important activities.

When the time comes to start the task, turn off the phone, turn off the email, turn off the distractions and focus on achieving the goal.   What happens if you don’t turn off the distractions, those distractions will interrupt your ability to get the results you want.  Focus on the goal.

Having a plan and following the plan will help you realize uncommon success. Confidence increases when goals are achieved.    Plan your day so you can get better results.

Write down your plan for today now.

 

New rules, new behavior

“I have a subconscious list of rules for how reality should work. I did not develop these rules on purpose, and most of them don’t make sense – which is disturbing when you consider that they are an attempt to govern the behavior of reality – but they exist, and they play a large role in determining how I react to the things that happen to me. Large enough that a majority of the feelings I feel are simply a reaction to reality not complying with my arbitrary set of rules. ”
― Allie Brosh

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Think about the rules you have in your life.  You have rules for everything.  Your life is about rules, like stopping at a train crossing or stopping at a stop sign.

If you are thinking I don’t live by rules then just look at your habits.  You do have habits, things you do, things you say,  the way you approach a problem or the way you tackle each day.  You do have habits and some work for you and some don’t.

Habits are rules that we use to reduce the amount of thinking we have to do.  Habits are programs that run in the background of your consciousness and some work well and some don’t.  If you find yourself doing things that don’t produce great results for you then you might want to change some of the rules you operate by.

Sometimes the issue is trying to find the rules that you want to change so that you can change them.  Some habits/rules are so embedded in our daily life that we aren’t even aware of them.   Becoming aware of those “hidden” rules is the first step to creating positive change.    What rules are running your life the way you don’t want them to?   What would you like to change?

ADHD: Principles of Structure

“You are where you are and what you are because of yourself, nothing else. Nature is neutral. Nature doesn’t care. If you do what other successful people do, you will enjoy the same results and rewards that they do. And if you don’t, you won’t.”
― Brian Tracy

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People with ADHD believe that they want less structure in their lives and yet the more structure they do have the more freedom they experience.  Structure creates freedom.

In the mind of a person that experiences ADHD multiple thoughts disrupt a consistent behavioral pattern.  That is why someone with ADHD who starts out to complete a task can be easily taken off course by noticing something that could be done (though it could be done later) that doesn’t need to be done right now.

Where does one start?

Start with a daily plan.  Plan the day in 30 minute blocks and decide what is going to fill those blocks.  You can span multiple blocks if you want.  The idea is to schedule your day rather than you day scheduling you.   Schedule your non-work hours as well.

Start with something simple (as shown below) and extend it for the full day.  You can use it to track where you time is going  and then make some decisions on how you want to spend your time.

Work Personal Care Home Children Email Web Chores Travel Other Comments
6:00AM
6:30AM
7:00AM
7:30AM
8:00AM
8:30AM
9:00AM
9:30AM
10:00AM
10:30AM
11:00AM
11:30AM
12:00PM
12:30PM
1:00PM
1:30PM
2:00PM
2:30PM
3:00PM
3:30PM
4:00PM

Get your day working for you.

Find out how you are spending your time (what is the reality) and then review that information.  Use that information to make some decisions on how you want to spend your time.

After you know where the time is going create the schedule that will work for you.   If time is being lost in unproductive or useless activities schedule that time for something that is beneficial for you.

To get start track how your time is being spent for a week.  Track all the things you do.  It doesn’t have to be super precise, just good enough to understand what is really happening in your life.

We’ll look at ways to turn unproductive time into productive time next time.

what real leadership is about

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
― Lao Tzu

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Real leaders are rare.  Far too common are the people who insist they are leaders because they want the title, or they want power or they want control, but these people are not leaders.

Leaders care for people and we’ve seen stories about people in positions of power discard people because the bottom line is what they thought they were leading.

Take a look at NextJump an organization that is intentional about real leadership.  Organizations that lead from the heart lead better than organizations that lead from the bottom line.   Another organization that is leadership focused is Barry-Wehmiller and is an example other companies could learn from.

Leadership begins with the human heart and being deeply concerned about the welfare of others.  Do you work in an organization that cares about the employees?   How do they do that?

Take a look at this video by Simon Sinek, listen to the story of real leadership in action.   Imagine working for a company who put you first, imagine what that would be like.