Do you ever get to the end of your day, tired out from all the work you have been doing and realise that you haven't achieved what you really set out to do?
It can be frustrating and exhausting, limping from day to day trying to get through everything adequately.
Which is why, in today's busy world, having the right tools and strategies to keep you on course and focused matters more than ever.
It has been estimated that we have lost over 40% of our attention span over the last ten years. Apart from viewing this as being somewhat careless on our part, I find that statistic extremely worrying. Is our world, and our current lifestyle sabotaging our best efforts to be more productive and if so, what do we need to be doing about it?
In my new book "Brain Smart - How to regain focus, manage distractions and achieve more" available in a couple of weeks, I discuss how you can identify your major distractors and learn to manage them, so that you are in control, rather than feeling controlled by them. I explain how your brain likes to pay attention and how to rebuild your focus muscle, to be sharp, focused and effective in all your daily tasks.
Meanwhile, I would like to share some wise words from Bob Pozen, Senior lecturer at Harvard Business School on how he believes we can all become more productive.
1. Focus on your top three goals every day and spend at least 70-80% of your time working on just these.I first heard this suggestion from Peter Cook who said "fight for three every day." He is so right. If you pick out your top three goals for that day and only work on those until they are completed before tackling anything else, you achieve far more of what you want to do and less of what everyone else wants you to do.
2. Respond to important emails immediately. With emails Bob suggests that you junk the 70-80% that are irrelevant to your needs and of the remaining 20-30% respond to them immediately. He dislikes "holding bays" for emails as it goes against his OHIO rule: only handle it once. Deal with it, so the person gets an appropriate response in a timely manner and then move on.
3. Distinguish between being a perfectionist and a procrastinator. Do your perfect "A" work for your top priorities and be satisfied with "B" or "C" grade work for less important items. My good friend Dr. Jason Fox uses the term "procrastifection" because he recognises many of us craft the skill of combining the two.
4. Focus on what matters: eat a boring breakfast. Bob eats the same breakfast every day and whilst his choice of foods isn't what I would consider ideal ("Cheerios" which are not what I would even class as a food: cardboard sprinkled with sugar!) — at least it is being eaten and getting his brain ready to work smarter for him every day. Though the brain fitness specialist in me is saying "Bob if you fed your brain a better breakfast every day how much more effective would you be then!"
What do you find effective to get more done?
Is it focusing more on what is important to you and engineering to relegate what others want to later?
Is it structuring your work to minimise the impact of distractions in your workplace.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/13405025@N05/6832071003/">Charlottejvogel</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>