Focused or Distracted?

Ultimate performance demands absolute focus. The real enemy of focus is distraction.

Focus on Priorities

To become more productive you and your team need to develop focusing skills to ensure that the highest priority issues are being addressed in the highest quality manner from one moment to the next.

  1. Does each member of your team fully understand what their highest priorities are from one day to the next?
  2. Are you able to identify your next highest priority in an ever changing, dynamic environment or do you continue to perform the tasks that you are most comfortable with?

Being clear on what constitutes a real priority is only the first step.

Focus Sessions

To be ultimately effective a singular focus on the task in hand needs to be developed. Multi-tasking might be an honourable skill in certain situations but it undeniably detracts from the quality of the desired outcome. So the first challenge is to examine your priorities and the real value of delivering the desired outcomes and make a commitment to focusing your energy on performing the task (or whatever it might be) with a singular focus.

What if it is a very detailed and long term task? Well human performance research shows us that 90 minutes is the longest period of time that we can focus and perform at our best; in fact the optimum period is actually 50 minutes.

Any longer and our performance diminishes as our energy resources start to flag. So it becomes very important to make a commitment to:

  1. Divide our work schedules into Focus Sessions of less than 90 minutes
  2. Take a break for 10 minutes once the Focus Session is completed to deliberately distract ourselves from the task in hand and allow our energy levels to be renewed
  3. Select the next highest priority for the next Focus Session

If you can complete at least two Focus Sessions in every working day, you will increase your productivity by at least 100%.

Eliminate Distractions

Once the choice to engage in a Focus Session has been made it then becomes vital to eliminate all distractions so that the singular focus can be maintained until the task is completed.

Our focus can be broken at any point if we fail to manage distractions more effectively. People regularly can be heard saying that they need to improve their Time Management, but it is not possible to manage time as there will always be a finite amount of time available in every day no matter what we do.

The key challenge is to manage your environment in a way that enables you to maximise the time that you have available so that your productivity will soar.

In all working environments distractions can come at you from every angle. Recent research shows that the three biggest distractions at work currently are:

  1. Email
  2. Phone
  3. People

“I was in the middle of writing this article when…..” This scenario typically occurs many times in a single day, and the real frustration is that we then waste further time trying to get back into alignment with the original task, our creative flow and our singular focus, before we truly become productive again.

Managing Your Environment

Society today seems to dictate that we must always be available. Technology was supposed to improve productivity but the reality is that it has had a detrimental impact.

We suggest that you strive to create new habits that will boost your productivity and these habits should be reflected in the way that you manage your working environment.

Ideas might include:

  • Diverting your office phone during your Focus Sessions
  • Personalising your mobile voicemail message to explain that you check and respond to your messages at three specific times each day
  • Developing a regime for only reading email messages at non-peak times of your day
  • Working outside of the office to eliminate personal interruptions

Some of these ideas might not immediately seem realistic in your current situation, but if you do not commit to managing your environment then the volume of distractions will only increase over time, and your ability to maintain a singular focus will continue to be impaired.

If being more productive during your working day is vitally important to you then developing new habits that include at least two Focus Sessions each day will deliver rich rewards immediately.