Hola, Focusers!

We thought today we’d outline some strategies you can adopt/adapt for combatting the Top 3 particular focus challenges you’ve been commenting about and reporting on since we started the blog. So here goes.

Problem 1: Twenty-two percent of you report that your primary challenge is Time Management, Lack of Planning, and Procrastination. Yep. We get it.

Our Best Solution: Use a project management app. We like Airtable, especially for megaprojects with lots of moving parts, timeline arcs, and more than a couple of collaborators. It’s really good for fixing your “lack of planning” problem. We keep notes in our own little notebooks, then we each transfer them to the appropriate “base” (Airtable’s word for a database), record, tab, etc. Just make one To Do List base whenever you think of a task for a given team member, including yourself, and you’ll always have a running list of things to do. Some large, some small. No more “lack of planning.” In terms of procrastinating, we’ll cover that in the next blog.

Problem 2: Twenty percent of you report that your primary problem is Work-at-Home Family Distractions. Yeah. We know this one well.

If you can’t get out of the house, sequester. Set aside your workspace, and use it consistently. If you can avoid it, don’t work in the bedroom—which ought to be used for two things only, one of which is hanging out with Mr. Sandman. Let all your peeps know – as many a famous writer has – that when you’re in that space, it means you are working and cannot, must not, except in emergencies, be disturbed. If there’s a burning Pop Tart or a possible heart attack, OK. If someone’s just bored, not OK.

Having said that, in terms of the 80/20 rule (wherein 20 percent of things rank among the “valuable” few versus the “trivial many” – up to 80 percent – )ALWAYS put family and loved ones in the former camp. No one has ever gotten to their deathbed and reported that they wished they’d spent less time and energy on their kids and more on work. No one. Ever.

Problem 3: Eighteen percent of you report that your main focus obstacle is “Multitasking.” Indeed, Ma’ams and Sirs.

Our Best Solution: Do not multitask. That’s right. Don’t do it. Don’t you do it. In fact, there’s no such thing as “multitasking.” Solid neuroscience of late proves that if you’re working on two or more things at once, you’re really “switch-tasking,” depleting little bits – or lots – of attention from each as you toggle between them. As anyone (everyone) who’s ever conducted a cell phone call while driving can attest, you’re not really focused on either task at hand. “That start/stop/start process is rough on us,” according to Psychology Today: “rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.”

The solution involves short-burst focus sessions, say, 20 minutes each (play your favorite focusatwill channel), to work single-mindedly on your highest payoff task. When you’re done, switch. But until then: focus. Try it now at focus@will.com.

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