Distraction, its everywhere in all shapes and forms. Not all distraction is bad but if you are like me, you'd like to get something done by the end of the day. Well, you're in luck. I'm going to share with you my tips on staying focused and becoming a productivity machine without even trying! Think that's too far fetched? think you're beyond salvation? we will see!
The thing is productivity and focus go hand in hand. Without a clear focus, you can't be productive. Of course, when I say this I am talking about high-skill tasks, I am not talking about doing the laundry, driving or cooking. Whilst there is a moderate amount of focus, a lot of it is automatic, a lot of that is unconscious. Where thought is required, such as writing a proposal, presentation or analysing project performance, this is where the focus is key.
Now, more than ever we are distracted. The pandemic has forced to worlds and cultures to collide in sometimes not so optimal fashion. Work-Home life has a new meaning and it can be suffocating and stagnate. It can disrupt the creative flow and is meaning more and more people are working longer for less. The way of working is going to change forever. So how do we keep the focus of work and the balance of life and family? How do we move into 'the zone' or into a state of 'flow' without being interrupted by spouses, zoom, teams, slack and texts? How do we build productivity into our daily to produce higher levels of output, so we can enjoy more of that home life?
The answer is simple. Discipline. in order for me to really switch gears and ensure I was firing I needed to change some daily habits and improve the way I track things to do.
As someone who has struggled to focus since childhood and suffering meningitis twice in my life (yes, this happened). I'm not always the quickest in terms of sorting through my things to do, remembering and recalling prior commitment and ensuring future work happens on time.
So, this is my full-proof way of ensuring 100% success. Yes, that wasn't a slip, I have committed to 100%. You may also want to go back and read my 1% gains blog or listen to Simon Sinek's view on the infinite game.
Firstly. Let's tackle the mind. The mind must be trained. It is a good idea to wake up earlier enough to organise your thoughts and get some time for the brain to connect and reboot. Here is an example from a day (when I was starting this out)
Wake up at 6 am
Use a mindfulness app (10 min of meditation)
Drink bottled - water, lemon and a little salt
Exercise - either run, walk or gym (weights)
Get ready for work (organise kids, shower etc)
I don't eat until 12 pm. This way I take advantage of intermittent fasting. Which I will come to later.
Now, once we are ready for work, the real important stuff occurs. When I was looking for a good way to track my actions I tried everything. Apps like Asana, Trello, Slack, ClickUp you name it. I could not get what I wanted out fast enough and quick enough. I still use an app to track tasks but my day to day is captured first in a little black book. I discovered the best note-taking and action tracking system I've ever seen. Its called the bullet journal method.
From their website - Be it for taking notes or journaling, studies keep identifying benefits of writing by hand. That said, it takes time and can be unorganized. How can we enjoy the benefits while avoiding the shortcomings of handwriting? Rapid Logging.
Rapid Logging is the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. In short, it’s a way of capturing information as bulleted lists. You can see the whole method and how it works here https://bulletjournal.com/pages/learn
Welcome back. So now we can continue with my productivity practice and focus in the office space that you either have at home, collocated or in your work office.
Have a quiet designated space with a door if possible
Have an essential oil diffuser
Have a speaker Bluetooth or headphones
Have two large bottles of water
Have the ability to stand or sit at table (I bought an old B&B table from office works for $29 worked great)
Have a comfortable chair and a lot of natural light (if possible)
Paper and a good pen
A bullet method journal (for work)
This is my set up and its done wonders. The next steps are the techniques I use which turn me from an ok performer into a productivity machine!
Add eucalypt or peppermint oil to the diffuser
Spotify turn on the deep work playlist
Turn to your bulletproof method (mentioned above in link)
Map out all events and meetings on paper or online calendar
Colour code emails into action required, follow up next week, reference
Finally, look at the Bulletproof Coffee method by Dave Asprey. This will change your life. A self-proclaimed bio-hacker, his coffee recipe allows the body to digest coffee (if you drink it) and have a longer performing effect. I take this once a day (at home)
Then its a matter of rinse and repeat. To add to it, include a daily supplement, vitamin D, fish oil and ensure you get to sleep on time.
Enjoy the fact that you have space, time and organised work. Take it slow and use the priority matrix to work out what is important and urgent (which requires your attention) versus everything else.
You can find all the information you need on this great method (which I use a lot) here https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/