Focus and Productivity
I've been working on my personal productivity for a while now...
I'm still working a "day-time" job with weird schedules and up to 14 hours away from home at times. When I'm home, my time is mostly allocated to my kids.
My partner and I don't make it easy on ourselves either... We home school and actually live more than 1000kms away from the rest of the family.
This leaves us with little to no time to work on anything else and negative levels of energy most of the times...
I have also been learning and working online for almost 2 years, and I suffer from the "shiny object syndrome" with information, which means that the more I learn the more things I find to study about.
Sometimes I reach points of information overload, but most of the times I just keep absorbing in any way imaginable, books, blogs, courses, audio books, podcasts, training, etc...
I have a lot of things going on and my objective with this post is to force myself to focus more by breaking down the tasks as I have recently learned that most productive successful people do and, if possible, help you do the same.
I'm currently working on 4 projects... I know, it makes no sense... It just takes me 4 times the time to produce results.
Goals and Objectives
As highlighted at the beginning of the WA training, one of the most important things to have is a Goal, an objective to aim for, it is also good to aim high, although some people say that it might create disappointment if you can't achieve your goals.
I'll leave you with a quote from Zig Ziglar on this: "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time"
Then there's this one from Normal Vincent Peale: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
I am a defender of big goals in order to break false beliefs. There's this thing called the self-image, which is how we see ourselves deep inside, and it tends to be set to the level we're used to and been taught to accept.
If I'm used to earning $2000 / month waiting tables, I tend to think of myself to only be worth that much and only capable of serving drinks and food to people. However, I'm worth much more than that, and the first person I need to convince of this is myself!
I believe that setting big goals can help achieve this result.
Goals Must be Specific
A goal must be very specific. You can't just say, I want to make a lot of money or I want to help a lot of people or have a profitable business.
In order to have something to work towards, you need to set dates and numbers. Let's say, I want to create an online course teaching people how to learn a second language and sell it to 100.000 people by the end of 2019. That's a specific goal!
Breaking Down the Goals
Now, these goals are thought to be harmful because people just tend to leave them out there and not work towards them.
Earl Nightingale defines a goal as "the progressive realization of a worthy ideal" and goes on to explain that "success doesn't lie in the achievement of a goal, although that's what the world considers success; it lies in the journey toward the goal."
It is hard to journey toward something we see as unreachable, which means we need to break down these goals into small steps that we can not only reach once but make a habit out of reaching them.
Remember that big goal you've set? If it's set for longer than a year I encourage you to create a new one for one year only, then break it down into 12 smaller goals to be achieved monthly.
These goals must lead you in the direction of your big goal.
Now comes the harder but most efficient part. Daily tasks.
The 6 Task List
I believe it was also from Earl Nightingale that I heard this idea. Create a list of 6 tasks with letters to prioritize them.
The next 6 things I need to accomplish are:
Don't assign yourself any new task until you've gone through this list. Once you've done everything in the list, create a new list, and so on.
The Daily List
Apart from the 6 Task List, you should set yourself with realistic daily tasks. Here is where it is important to be realistic and achieve balance.
The daily list is something I set up for myself and includes everything I need to be productive, like exercise, meditation, time with the kids, and time to work.
It's important that every day we do something that helps accomplish one or more of the tasks in the 6 Task List.
I am still overreaching in this area and trying to find my balance...
You should find your most productive times, when can you work better, with fewer distractions, when do you prefer to exercise or other things you set up for yourself and follow those schedules.
I know what you're thinking, I thought about it myself, I want to be an entrepreneur to be free of schedules not the opposite. That's all very beautiful, but we are beings of routine, everything that we do constantly becomes a habit and as a habit it stops being an effort, we should aim to create productive habits that lead us towards our goals.
One of the most important skills successful people have mastered is the art of Absolute Focus. They focus short bursts of time in performing a task instead of working for long periods with distractions.
While multi-tasking you might feel like you're getting a lot done, but in reality you're just wasting your time and energy and overwhelming yourself with never ending tasks.
I am the biggest sinner here, and I am mostly writing this to myself. Focus on one task, objective and goal at a time!
And try to achieve absolute focus, I've gotten into this state a few times and loved the productivity that came out of it, but failed to create a habit.
Sidenote: Something that is repeated daily for more than 21 days creates a habit.
To achieve Absolute Focus try the following techniques:
- Go to a very quiet place - with almost 0 distractions - but don't expect 0 distractions or you'll be easily distracted. There will always be distractions, your objective is to minimize them.
- Think about what you need to accomplish and focus on it. You will get this done.
- Set yourself a set time to accomplish this task, it must be a short period, maximum 90 minutes. If needed take a 20-minute break and get back to it. Don't ask too much of yourself at first.
- Don't open any windows on your computer that are not related to what you need to accomplish during this period.
I might have forgotten to mention that all these goals and tasks must be written down, but also very important is to mark them as done somehow. Choose your own method.
If you use pen and paper, cross out every task you accomplish and even consider removing the page and filing it somewhere as a way to feel the accomplishment.
I use apps on my phone, 2 to be precise. Trello and Samsung Notes. One to plan out what needs to be done and the other for the daily tasks and 6 Task List. Some apps allow you to cross out the tasks which should provide the feeling of accomplishment.
I like to always reward myself at the end of the day by doing something I enjoy. Reading a book, playing a game, etc... This is another aspect I fall short on, I spend weeks not rewarding myself properly and end burning myself out.
Once you accomplish big goals in your business try to reward yourself with something you like as well. The same way you're the first person you need to convince of your worth, you're the first person that need to feel the rewards of your own work.
I hope this helps some people, I know it helped me to write it down. I will try to keep this post up to date with important things I learn or think of.
I'd love to hear from all of you which techniques you use and how do you suggest I improve this post.
To your success!