“I won’t get distracted”, you tell yourself, “I’ve got a deadline – I’ll be fine”.
Next thing you know you’re looking at the goals-per-game statistics for second division Scottish soccer team Raith Rovers from their 1976/77 season.
I know because it happened to me. It was 1.15 goals-per-game. In the league only – not including cups.
This is why I’ve had to drill myself to be able to work effectively, and why I’m telling you how to avoid distractions today.
Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science – by focusing on 4 key areas I’ve unleashed supercharged professional self:
- Planning and preparation
- Productivity tips and tricks
- Team communication
- Processes and workflows
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Once you manage to start working, there’s a limited amount of time before you’ll probably lose focus again. I’ve found this window tends to be an hour.
Of course, that depends on how well rested, fed, and watered you are, and on the environment you work in. You need to give yourself time to relax and plenty of sleep, eat a decent diet, and not put yourself somewhere where other sources are vying for your attention.
That initial period of sustained attention span is your golden hour. Just like how a film director or photographer has to catch the morning or evening light to find that beautiful moment which will make their work shine, so too do you need to latch onto this golden moment to power the rest of your day.
So, for the first half hour or hour of my day, I focus on planning and prioritizing my tasks and work.
I’ll look across my Trello board (where I manage my tasks) and peer at the different cards in front of me. If I’m going to done one of them today, I’ll drag it into my “To Do” column. By doing this I’ve specified what my tasks for the day will be, both to myself and to any colleagues who want to check up on me. More importantly, I have also specified what my tasks for the day won’t be.
I don’t need to think about the other projects I have or the other responsibilities that rest on my shoulders. Today I am doing these tasks and these tasks only. Clarity.
My second step is to delve into each task and plan my approach. If I have an article to write, I’ll open up the bullet point note taking app Workflowy. This nifty piece of kit provides a really simple way to pull ideas and plans together and store information inside collapsible lists. With its intuitive and minimal design, there’s little to distract me and I can focus my thoughts.
Once I’ve finished my planning and preparation, I’m able to crack on with the rest Go to the full article.