If you struggle to focus on one thing at a time, have trouble sticking with a task until it’s finished or spend most of your day multitasking then you might well be suffering from a new epidemic sweeping business owners and professionals alike.
I see these ‘symptoms’ crop up time and time again in so many of my clients who are racing around, leading incredibly busy and frantic lives, working hard trying to get more and more done every day. The problem is that their approach to managing their ever-increasing workload isn’t effective because of their inability to focus and give each task their full attention.
The sad thing is that so many brilliant and talented individuals waste their abilities because they don’t know how to plan and manage their time effectively, which really can make the difference between a mediocre career and one that you love and excel in.
To increase your focus and attention start with these 3 simple steps that will help you fight this nasty epidemic: –
1. Stop Multitasking
There’s considerable research to show that multitasking is in fact a misnomer and does nothing other than slow you down and make you LESS productive!
Unfortunately your brain doesn’t process multiple tasks simultaneously – it actually flicks back and forth rapidly between them. So if you try and do multiple activities at once you actually perform more slowly and less accurately because your mind has to constantly switch back and forth. As you would expect, this results in lower levels of productivity.
Tim Ferriss summed this research up beautifully in his highly recommended book ‘The Four Hour Work Week‘ – “I’m going to tell you what you already know. Trying to brush your teeth, talk on the phone and answer email at the same time just doesn’t work”.
Current research into worker habits and distractions shows that workers “typically change tasks every three minutes” and ” take about 25 minutes to return to an interrupted task”. More than a quarter of each 9-5 period (28%) is consumed by such interruptions and by one estimate interruptions take up to 2.1 hours of an average workers day.
So what can you do to be more productive? Put simply, prioritise properly so that you don’t feel under pressure to do more than one task at a time, and avoid interruptions as much as possible. Turn your email alert off, put your mobile on silent and finish your important tasks from start to finish without distraction. This takes practice and discipline, but do it enough and you’ll install a powerful new habit that’s well worth having!
2. Plan, Plan, Plan
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There’s no doubt about it, planning increases focus and productivity which allows you to start your day acutely aware of what needs to be done and by when.
Don’t walk into the office, flaff around with your email and then start thinking about what your goals are for the day – you’re simply wasting time and aiding ‘Constant Partial Attention’ because your mind is unfocussed and wandering.
Spend 5 minutes each and every night planning the critical tasks you need to complete the following day. Keep your list short and confined only to the jobs that are vital to the success of your day so that you set yourself up for success and feel satisfied by the time you go home. If you’re worried about forgetting the odds and ends that tend to fill most ‘to-do’ lists, have a separate book where you write them down, but your main action list should only consist of tasks that are critical to your key goals.
Habits take time to form so it’s important that you decide what behaviour you want to change and commit to implementing those changes DAILY. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many new habits – focus on one at a time and master it before you move on. This aids focus and attention, and allows you to feel great about what you’re doing rather than swamped by all the new things you’re trying to change in your day. Commitment and mastery are key!
If you would like to manage your career and time smartly book your free 30-minute coaching consultation now. Simply click here to schedule your appointment.
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