As you try to concentrate on work, the phone keeps buzzing and e-mail notifications keep pinging. Your attention is stretched thin trying to process all this.
We’ve all been there.
But how can we get anything done this way?
You’re lucky if you can finish anything at all with a scattered state of mind.
After all, multitasking isn’t a virtue. Never was.
In this post, you will learn how to remove certain roadblocks and make way for greater focus and productivity.
We’ll be borrowing tips from productivity literature such as Deep Work, Eat That Frog, and more.
Which leads me to the first and most insidious culprit: Distraction.
How can you create meaningful work when the threat of distraction is imminent?
Those pesky little invaders can come out of nowhere and fully arrest your attention, making it almost impossible to reel it back to the task at hand.
The good news is, you have control over most of them. And to manage them you simply remove them from your immediate vicinity. For example—your cellphone.
If your phone beckons you to check your social media every five minutes, turn it off, tuck it away in your desk drawer or use time management apps that will prevent you from opening certain applications.
Make a list of your most common distractions and become aware of how and when they sneakily waddle into your sphere of attention. Then zap them into oblivion!
Remove them before they make themselves at home in your working and short-term memory. A pristine working memory is your best ally when solving problems or learning new things.
Additionally, productivity experts recommend creating a distraction to-do list, which means you list all of your common distractions and check those off to keep the curiosity at bay when it matters the most.
Much like scheduling interruptions, you also schedule uninterrupted work.
Schedule time of uninterrupted work
This goes hand in hand with removing distractions, but you must take it a step further. You must commit to a specific timeframe (or whatever benchmark method you use to track your progress).
This means telling your spouse, roommates, or co-workers (even your boss!) to not interrupt you unless it’s VERY urgent.
During this time, your attention is ready to commit fully and drive a project to completion. Brick by brick. Task by task. Until the entire thing is finished.
Some people think of this as a form of meditation. Others call it single-tasking.
Commit to a schedule and don’t deviate.
Here’s a catch, though. What’s the point of laser-focusing on a task if the task isn’t that important?
That’s why you must prioritize.
Prioritize Tasks by Importance
A.k.a. Pareto’s Law. Or the 80/20 principle.
20% of your tasks are responsible for 80% of your desired outcome. This is why it’s extremely crucial to identify the handful of tasks in your to-do list or calendar that will yield most of the results.
Let’s make another list.
Break down your tasks into a list and number each line by importance.
Once you’ve determined your top, most-important tasks, you now have your first plan of attack.
Eventually, you’ll tackle each task on your list, but beginning with the most important ones can create an unstoppable momentum that can make the process faster.
It’s like that famous Elbert Hubbard quote, “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”
1. Eliminate distractions.
2. Schedule uninterrupted work.
With a prioritized list of tasks and a scheduled block of time, free of distractions, you will be able to work wonders and get a lot done.
Let’s get to work!