Productivity wasn’t on my mind when I was a kid messing around with my mates over long summer holidays. We would sometimes burn bits of wood or start little grass fires using a magnifying glass on sunny days (and put them out!). Looking back reminds me that focus is a powerful thing, though applying it can be tricky in this modern world.
Concentrate your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. Alexander Graham Bell.
When I set out the write this post I was in danger of being swamped by information overload. I had ideas buzzing around in my head and not to mention the temptation the Internet! So I decided to apply what is a powerful tool f0r me when it comes to focusing and managing my limited time; I put a time limit on myself of 15 minutes to write down all of the main things I wanted to say.
The good thing about setting a limit is that you’re breaking the task down into manageable chunks, but more importantly you are creating inertia. At the end of the 15 minutes I was still buzzing with ideas and I was keen to do another burst of work. I was in the flow!
Whether you are at work in a busy environment (and believe me, the educational environment I work in is busy!), or at home with the distractions of family, kids, TV, Internet or whatever, it is always possible to set aside a slot of time for real productivity.
So here are some of my favourite methods for getting the best out of my time. Maybe they can work for you:
Keep it simple – less really is more and if you spread yourself too thinly you might end up achieving doodle squat.
Concentrate on tasks with big pay-offs. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the effort. Make sure you spend yours where it counts. Ask yourself -‘What impact will this have?’
Avoid distractions. Close the door, ignore the emails, the text notifications, clear a space to work on, clear your mind! If necessary, tell those around you that you need 15 minutes of slack.
Set a time and stick to it. Use a simple kitchen timer or an app on your phone.
Step into the mindset of some super focused, creative genius that you might aspire to be. Try and imagine what they would get done in the time. Act as if you were that person.
Focusing is really about saying 'No'. Steve Jobs
Remember that procrastination is the thief of time. The longer you leave something the more difficult it gets and the more stress it causes. So just do it! Rip it into small pieces and devour it a piece at a time.
I hope these work for you, and if you have some tips of your own, pass them on!