Tag Archives: accomplishment

How to Stay More Focused in 5 Simple Steps

We live in a multitasking world. We are constantly bombarded by messages via email, LAN line phones, TV, radio, mobile devices, text messages, pop-ups on the internet, global conference calls at weird hours…the list goes on.

We think we can handle it, but all this multitasking and gear-switching robs us of our productivity while deluding us with thoughts that we’re accomplishing more than we are.

In order to get more things done, it’s important to follow some simple rules. I know rules are a challenge for creative, free-flowing types but trust me, incorporating a bit of structure will facilitate the achievement of your goals faster flitting from one thing to another.

Here are 5 simple steps to getting more things done faster.

1.  Look at the task.
That may seem like a weird statement. If the task, for example, is to clean your messy desk, looking at that messy desk is likely to overwhelm or even frustrate you.

It may make you want to run out of the room screaming and find something more pleasant to do like chat with a co-worker or get something to eat.

What if the task is a writing an article or an email? Sharing at a blank piece of paper or empty ‘new message’ window, could paralyze you.

So why do I suggest that you look at the task?

Because it will allow you to focus.

Take a few slow deep breaths. Allow yourself to relax a bit. Don’t judge yourself, the task or the person who assigned it to you. Just breathe and relax.

Close your eyes if that helps you relax. Imagine what the finished ‘project’ looks/feels like. Allow yourself to feel grateful and proud that you’ve completed it. Hold that vision and those feelings of accomplishment in your mind for several moments.

2. Think about the steps.
With your now calm mind and still closed eyes, map out your strategy. Think about the actions you could take, the points you want to make, the words you could use. Think it through first. Visualize the steps unfolding in natural order. If you’re writing, think about the person/people you’re writing to. Consider the points you want to make.  Then open your eyes and do, write, move the first thing(s) that comes to mind. Trust yourself to accomplish your goal with grace and ease.

Even if you’re under a deadline, allowing yourself to get centered and focused will allow you to take more effective action. It will be time well spent.

3. Focus your attention on the task.
Avoid distractions. If music stimulates you, turn on your favorite tunes. I find classical music conducive to deep thinking. I find dance music stimulating for motion tasks (like cleaning). Do what works for you but stay focused on your task. Don’t drift off into reverie about any distracting memories that get evoked with  your tunes. If that happens, turn the music off and focus on your task again.

4. Try your best to ignore distractions by others.
Shut off the ringer on your phone. Tell the kids/spouse/best friend at work, you’re not to be disturbed until… If an idea comes to you that you need to take action on, write it down. Resist the urge to do it, even if you think it’s quick. It probably won’t be as quick as you imagine and even if it is, you will have lost the momentum you’d gained on the original, important project you were working on.

5. Stop working only when you’re done.
If it’s a big project, consider setting a time limit. Staring down the throat of a monumental task, can indeed be overwhelming. Work on huge tasks 90 minutes at a time. Take a short break, then go back to work for another 90 minutes. Stay on task. Don’t move to another project. Stay on this on until it is complete or until you’ve reached the time you had allocated for it this go round.

BONUS STEP: When you’re done, reward yourself!
Give yourself a ‘High 5!’, ‘Atta girl! or Atta boy!’

Wallow, for a bit, in your sense of accomplishment, pride and relief. You’ve just completed something that was a big deal or had been sitting around nagging at you for too long.

A celebration is well in order. Don’t cheat yourself out of enjoying the moment!

Imagine yourself at the Olympics, having just crossed the finish line ahead of everyone else. Hear and feel the crowd cheering for you in all your glory.  Feel the pride yourself and bring the memory of your accomplishment to the next daunting task you have to perform.

‘Cause you know there will be another one coming. But this time, you’ll be more prepared.

5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Get More of the Right Stuff Done

productivitytool10One of my speaking gigs is being an Actor for a local hospital. They give me a script and I act out various patient roles for nurses in training or those going for a professional certification. The hospital staff and I evaluate them and provide feedback on their patient care style and medical expertise.

On my last gig, we were conducting certification testing for trauma nurses. It quickly became evident that those that followed the system they had been taught, were WAY more likely to diagnose my ailments and save my life than those who were just ‘shooting from the hip’ trying to figure out what was wrong with me and what they should do about it.

That experience started me thinking about the value of process and systems in improving productivity and efficiency at work. Here are some tips you can apply even though you may NOT be a nurse.

1. Have a process and use it.
Shooting from the hip wastes time. Without a process, you’ll waste time and won’t get the desired results as quickly as you might need them.  Even for simple activities,using a framework will keep you focused, on task and produce more consistent, reliable results.

2. Make a list of your next day high priority activities BEFORE you leave work.
This will allow you to ‘hit the ground running’ when you get in first thing. You won’t waste that early morning quiet time (if you have it) trying to figure out what to focus on. Even if, especially if, you have a full day right off the bat, knowing what you’ll do before you get in will allow you to allocate precious time more quickly than if you get caught up in the back-to-back meeting syndrome so many people suffer from.

3. Keep the big picture in mind.
The trap many people fall into is dealing with the emergencies that land on their desk first. Of course, if the ’emergency’ is a critical one, you will have to deal with it quickly, but keeping your own important goals top-of-mind will help you triage situations and give things demanding your attention their proper place in the larger scheme of things.

4. Don’t answer the phone or check your email until AFTER you’ve done the top thing on your list.
This may seem like sacrilege or heresy to some, but think about it. Incoming phone calls and emails are things on the top of SOMEONE ELSE’s agenda, not yours. This one takes courage, but if you’re prioritizing things correctly, you’ll make the right decisions. If you’re really worried you’ll miss something from your demanding and irrational boss, scan your inbox if you must, but resist the urge to do anything you don’t absolutely have to until you’ve knocked out your top item(s).

5. Take a break every 90 minutes.
“Step away from your computer!”. Imagine a police officer yelling at you if you need some outside motivation. Go outside if you can, go to the bathroom and relax for a bit. Close your door and play your favorite music video or a snippet of an iTunes playlist. Taking a short 10-minute break, even in the midst of a critical project will rejuvenate your brain cells and reignite your creativity.

Incorporate these tips and see, not only how much more you accomplish, but also how much better you’ll feel in the process.

7 Key Steps to Achieving Mastery

balance-masteryAccording to Merriam-Webster, “mastery” is defined as: 1) knowledge and skill that allows you to do, use, or understand something very well, 2) complete control of something, 3) possession or display of great skill or technique.
Here a 7 key steps to achieving mastery…

1. Decide.
I’m becoming more and more aware of the power of the decisions we make in our lives. Without a decision to do something, life moves on somewhat aimlessly, resigned to dealing with the outside incidents and internal states through at us.
Decisions however, alter the course of your future. Once you make a decision to do something, to master something, the path to achieving it becomes more clear. You may not know all of the steps, but deciding is the first one.

2. Focus.
You have to concentrate your energy in the direction of the area you want to master. This might start with taking a class or practicing, but the key component is the focus. You may need to re-prioritize your activities and how you spend your time. Mastery, unless you’re already, naturally, extremely gifted in that area, doesn’t happen overnight.

3. Delegate
Get rid of the other things that steal your time, drain your energy and suck your soul right out of you. Life must continue, but for you to focus, you’ll likely need other people taking care of some of the tasks that don’t require your talents or that have slipped to a lower priority status now that you’ve decide to master something.

4. Take risks.
Mastery won’t happen inside your comfort zone. You’ll need to press the edges of what you know and step outside of them frequently. You won’t discover new horizons if you stay in territory you’re already familiar with.

5. Evaluate.
As you progress, regularly take time to step back and ask questions like
“What can I do better?”
“Is there a more efficient way to get this done?”
“If I weren’t attached to doing it the way I currently am, what else might I try?”
“If I were a master at this already, what would I do?”

6. Improve.
Incorporate the insights gained from your consistent questioning of your process, progress, skill level, mindset shifts about what’s possible. Do it one more time. Do it a different way. Do it more quickly. Reach for your goal.

7. “Rinse and repeat”.
Mastery is a continuous process. Even once you think you’ve achieved mastery, you’ll see there is farther to go. I’m reminded of the process of cleaning or weeding. You get started and work to remove what shouldn’t be there. You think you’re almost done, but now that the area is more ‘clean’ you notice dirt and weeds that had previously been obscured by the massive about of dirt and weeks that were there when you first started.

Mastery is like that. The better you get, the more you’ll see how you can improve. Rejoice in that process.

Enhanced by ZemantaIn case you want to see mastery in action, watch this YouTube video