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Be More Productive, Be More Succesful

If I were, to sum up, this post in one phrase, it would be “do the job.” However, the work isn’t as easy as it seems. We all know we’d be more effective if we just did what we’re supposed to do, but a number of factors, such as laziness, lack of discipline, Facebook, and cute baby videos, conspire to sabotage our plans.

Be Focused, Be Productive

How can we sit down and do the work we’re supposed to do?

It is precisely the topic of this post. I’m not perfect too. (I put off writing this opening for far too long.) But I’ve worked out a few tricks for being extremely productive, and I’ll share them with you in this post. Any of these techniques will appear self-evident—we all need gentle reminders—while others will hopefully be less apparent.

I can’t make you a super productive, high-quality computer. Still, I can give you some valuable tools to combat distraction, refine your concentration, and press the X in the top corner of the browser window playing baby videos—as funny as they are.

It’s All About Focus

If you want to be more productive, you need to get more work done faster. Now, being productive doesn’t guarantee you’ll be effective.

How are you doing more… faster? Well, everything begins with focus. Focus is essential to complete every task. I’m focused on the task of writing this post right now. I have my headphones on, I ignore my email, I watch my screen and type, so I know it might take me all day to post, or it can take me a few hours to write. It depends on focus.

Well, let’s discuss:

  •  What focus is it?
  • Why it’s so important?
  • How can you get more of it?

Please resist the temptation to check your notifications, put your phone on vibrate, and let’s get started.

What focus is?

I don’t normally believe in magic pills, but I do believe that focus is the productivity magic pill. 

Without focus, the issue is that projects are eventually spread over a very long duration. Distractions that break our focus—or prevent us from ever achieving it—end up costing us more than the time they take away.

Why is Focus So Important?

Focus is crucial because it prevents one from having to lay the groundwork over and over again while working on a task. It can take some time to get it all in place in our minds so that we can work at our best. Consider it like a vehicle reaching highway speed. It takes a few gear shifts for the car to reach highway speeds. If you have to stop and start continuously, you will be forced to go at a much slower average pace. It takes some time to get the car back up to highway speed and into fifth gear. However, once there, you can cruise along with no effort.

How to Get More Focus?

I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of the importance of focus. However, you are still curious about how you can get more of it. (No, I’m afraid I haven’t worked out how to get it in pill form yet, but I’ll let you know if I do.)

In reality, learning how to concentrate is important, so the majority of the rest of this post will be useless to you unless you can remain focused. I will tell you all the productivity hacks and tactics in the world, but they won’t help you if you can’t sit down and work on a task.

When I first sat down to write this post, I had a strong desire to check my inbox, urinate, and get some caffein.  My brain was doing everything it could to keep me from concentrating. I had to keep things under control and push my fingers to start typing. Now I’m in a zone where I could type for hours—or maybe half an hour. The point is that I had to sit down and push myself to move in order to focus.

Now, I might have made it seem easier than it is. It is not as easy as sitting down at the keyboard and typing. You must actively combat the distractions that will come your way when you upshift to the high gear that will take you cruising. Combating these distractions requires some forethought.

Before beginning a task, make sure you’ve got done everything possible to shield yourself from interruptions, both internal and external. Silence your mobile, close distracting browser windows, disable popups on your screen, and consider hanging a sign that says “busy” on your door or cubicle entrance or a status on your messenger. You may think I’m kidding about the sign/status, but I’m completely serious. Your colleagues, manager, family members or housemates might be a bit resistant at first, but once you start performing like crazy, they’ll understand—and want to buy more of your magic pills.

So, you’re ready to start working.  You sit down at your laptop and begin to type. There are no distractions in sight, but wait—what is that? Y  You have the impression that you need to check Facebook to see if someone likes your post. Put an end to it. Don’t really consider it. It is now up to you to use your willpower to stay focused on the task at hand. The focus will be forced at first, but momentum will grow and take you forwards. Your only target is to make it through the first 5 or 10 minutes. If you can get to 10 minutes, there’s a good chance you’ll have enough momentum to keep going. Even a slight distraction would be impossible to interrupt your concentration at that moment.

Time to Practice Focus

Pick a task that will take you a half-hour or more and block off the time needed to complete that task, giving it complete focus. Force yourself to concentrate on that task and that task only. Make a mental note of what it feels like when you’re in the “zone.”

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