This article is part of a series called, "Maximum Productivity " in which I’ll explore the topic of focus.
See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections
Productive focus is narrowing your actions and time in on the areas that produce results. Using this to maximize your productivity has a number of benefits and is something that is especially hard to do in today’s society and workplaces and it is actually getting hard and harder as we use more technology.
Technology is really only useful if it does something for us to make our lives better or easier. While we are constantly taking advantage of that with technology in our lives, I cannot say that it comes without a cost. That cost is focus. Technology is connecting and enabling anyone to have a wealth of information available at their fingertips, anywhere and at anytime. That anytime is the dangerous part. Most people allow phone calls, email and internet to be an integral part of every day and they let it distract them with a moment’s notice for low value activities. We let popups, audible alerts, vibrating devices, flashing LEDs, and many other digital distractions consume our precious attention regardless of the priority of that digital tidbit. Many people find that they just don’t know how to work without these tools, let alone get maximum productivity without them. This is where technology needs to be eliminated in order for a person to learn and really experience the power of focus. The ability to stay disconnected and attentive on a single set of tasks is critical to maximize your productivity. If you can’t do this for a few hours at a time, you have more work to do to master the power of focus. I challenge you to go a whole day without your cell phone, email, internet or handheld device. Try working at one thing at a time and don’t let anyone or anything distract you from it.
This article I wrote should help give you more ideas about how you can focus while working on a computer. Maximize Your Productivity on Your Computer
Stop Wasting Time
If all those technology distractions are not enough, media can easily consume any additional time you might have. We all love our media, whether its books, TV, newspapers, movies or internet, and while they can provide a valuable time for relaxation and entertainment, they consume far more hours in our lives than useful. And unfortunately, there is a staggering amount of bad media and full of poor or negative messages bombarding us in these various media channels. Television is my least favorite and it is also the most time consuming to the general public. Most people spend hours every day watching television and then griping about their life situations, finances, relational problems and negative attitudes. It amazes me. If I was ever to teach a psychiatrist school, I would give them one technique to use with their patients and it would work to fix most people’s problems in life. That technique would be to eliminate television from your daily routine. Oddly enough, people can stay focused on the television for hours on end, yet will immediately complain about not having time to start a business, or build relationships, or work a little harder in school or a job. Getting rid of television is a great way to focus more time on productive things and to stop wasting it. I personally watch only about 1 hour per week and I’ve developed a love and value of all the time I have outside of television.
Newspapers and the internet can easily be as bad at wasting time. Set a completion time when you take on these activities and track your time carefully. Pay attention to what you are reading or surfing and look to keep asking yourself if it is useful. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by advertisements with these media we often find ourselves spending massive amounts of time reading things that we don’t even know how we got to it in the first place.
Do Productive Work First
For some people, eliminating the distractions and time wasters won’t be easy and even if you work at it, you may not be very successful at it for some time. To change that I recommend to always do your productive work first. Plan to spend just a few minutes a day when you first start work and again when you first get home or finish supper to do some productive tasks. Those few minutes can often turn into hours where you will get a lot of productive work done or they might just be a few minutes, either way, it trains you to do that first and to continually make progress and practice maximizing your productivity.
Build Your Mind
Training your mind to focus and stay productive is what it really takes to maximize this. To focus your mind, you need to do a lot of the similar things as I’ve outlined above about your physical activities. You need to break the patterns in your mind that distract you, that feed limiting beliefs, that clutter your thoughts and prevent your ability to stay attentive and focused. There are many ways to do this, but it requires that you develop new beliefs and patterns that encourage productive behavior. Take a look at this article on Beliefs: They’re Entirely Yours to Control .
Aside from working to eliminate specific things from your mind, you can also develop your mind by learning and practicing to be more positive, focused and productive. The best way to practice focus in the mind is to do it without distractions. No people, no music, no technology, nothing! Find a place of solitude (preferable in nature) and stay there focusing on a specific topic. Let your mind wander around that subject but pull your thoughts back to the same topic over and over each time it drifts. Focus on visualizing and detailing everything you can about that topic you are focused on. Imagine it and be creative in your mind. Imagine being productive, staying productive in the present and future and even what maximum productivity looks like. Focus those thoughts and images and repeat them. Practice until you can instantly bring that image into your mind of you being at your maximum potential. Lock those thoughts into your mind and remember how you felt and use those feelings or some action as an anchor point to return your mind to that state in the future. If you master your state of mind , you can learn to switch your mind into that state immediately and focus on it. This is a great skill to develop for building your mind to help you reach your maximum productivity.
What are the methods you use to focus? Do you agree or disagree with these ideas? I’d love to hear your comments and further the discussion on focusing for productivity. Please add your comments below!
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Next: Maximum Productivity: Persistence