What are some tips that can help people become their most productive selves? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we have much on our plate trying to balance work life, family life, and giving to our communities. Focus is a "superpower" that can help you achieve extraordinary results and shave hours off of your work week.
One of the lies of success that people often buy into is that you get ahead by working just a little harder, and just a little longer than everybody else does. You get up at dawn or before dawn - you are the first person in to work and the last to go home. When other people have stopped working, gone home, you are hunkering down and putting in tremendous hours. This is how you get ahead. This may be true for a while, but you can only drive in the express lane for so long before the wheels come off.
Have you ever experienced "sunset fatigue" - where you have given so much of yourself during the work day that there is nothing left when you get home for your family? I remember one specific time where my head was so full of the work day and I didn't realize my young daughter was speaking to me about something important to her until she grabbed my face in her little hands and turned it to me and said, Mommy, are you listening? Maybe you are there physically, but not mentally as your head is still swirling.
With all the responsibilities we have as leaders in our business, we need to realize that they are not going away. How can we better manage them and improve the time we are spending working? By learning how to have laser focus we can actually WORK LESS and ACHIEVE MORE.
Here are three strategies for improving your focus super power:
1. Narrow your Focus. Realize that you will have the highest energy and will be most productive when you are working on projects that you love.
Think of focus as being interested and absorbed in something with ease. As an example, when you are watching a good movie that you are interested in you don't "think" about having to focus on it.
Think of a time when you were working on something that just flowed for you. The time went by so fast. You were highly energized by it. What activities do you do where the time just flies by? The goal is to increase the number of these type of activities and decrease those activities that are the opposite.
2. Carve Out Untouchable Time. You need to intentionally carve out time that is untouchable. This is easy to say, and even quite easy to schedule, but very hard to do.
I call these Power Blocks, and typically these for me are one to two-hour appointments with myself. I also schedule Power Days where I commit to the full day without distractions. What does this look like?
It is simply an appointment on my calendar with myself to work on a particular project or assignment. I free myself of distractions so I can have sustainable focus.
Set your Power Blocks at times you have your best energy. For most of us, this is first thing in the morning. Instead of diving into email in the morning which for most of us should not be an important priority, use this time instead when you are freshest to work on your most important work. It is amazing how productive you can be and the big things you can cross off your list when you put them first.
3. Prepare for your Power Time. You need to prepare for your Power Blocks and be ready to fight for them.
As I mentioned, saying we will take dedicated time to focus on our most important priorities is easy to say, and even quite easy to schedule, but very hard to do.
Here are some tips to prepare you for your power blocks and help you get the most out of them.
· Get support - let everyone know including your closest work colleagues and family members.
· Go to a quiet place where you won't be interrupted.
· Put away personal distractions such as your cell phone and an open email box.
When you get your "superpower" of focus right, you are free from distraction, free to focus, and you will achieve a work flow that is highly energizing, fun, and very productive. You will shave hours off your work week.
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