I thought this was a fitting video further to the last post on why most people never find their purpose. Here, Seth Godin explains failing until you succeed. We live in a culture that doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship. It doesn’t encourage trying and failing. “Failing” is frowned upon which prevents most people from even trying. In the Industrial Age, trying and failing would be costly. We are no longer living in the Industrial Age though. We’re in the Information Age where trying and failing doesn’t have to cost us anything. The only thing that stops us trying is ourselves – because we’ve been brainwashed into the idea that failure means the end of the world. Starting a business has never been easier – access to information, access to technology, access to tried and tested systems, coaches, mentors and access to capital – if you need it. I’d highly recommend setting aside 20 minutes to watch this video, it’s well worth a watch. [Read more...]
We’ve all heard that the way we organise our possessions and particularly our workspace is a direct reflection of the state of our minds. Or maybe you haven’t? If we have clutter all over the house and a non-existent filing system, the chances are, that there are other areas in your life that require a little organisation – and attention. Focus and productivity are affected by how well we’re organised. Did you know that if you have piles of paper for example on your desk, that it sends messages to your subconscious mind that there are other tasks that need to be completed so you can’t fully focus on the task in hand? [Read more...]
Leading on from last week’s post on how to improve your productivity instantly, these top ten tips for effective time management develop a few of the concepts and present some other ideas that you probably won’t have heard of. Importantly, we human beings are all different and work differently. It’s really about finding out what works for you. I’ve listed my personal top ten which I think you will find very useful.
1) Forget time management – it’s a misdemeanour! Controversial I hear you say? If you think about it, time is the one thing in life that we can’t manage. We’re only dealt with a finite amount of it. I came across this concept from 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven Covey. The trick is to manage your focus, rather than time. [Read more...]
A major obstacle to focus and productivity can be an overactive brain. In fact, this leads to stress, anxiety and sleep disorders as well. If you would like to learn how to free your mind, then this simple exercise will definitely help. In this video, Jim Bunch explains a process that involves a complete mind dump which means putting literally everything that is on your mind onto paper. This process alone frees up your mind, but the next process which he calls GPA – which stands for Goals, Projects and Actions, allows you to categorise everything that is on your mind, followed by a prioritisation exercise. [Read more...]
If you think you’re being efficient by multitasking, then think again! These 3 tips to boost your focus and productivity are brought to you by Daan Harmsen. The 3 headings he uses are focus, disconnect and controlled chaos. The first is self-explanatory, disconnect is about removing yourself from distractions, such as social media, phone calls, emails etc and the last is about managing your time effectively. Some people use systems to plan their days, but end up spending more time managing their systems than they do doing the work itself!
Focus — One method that many people use to get more done is multitasking. Why do one thing, if you can do two things at one, and get twice as much work done? The problem with multitasking is that humans are notoriously bad at it: our brains are just not wired to be good at it. In fact, when you multitask, your productivity drops so much that you would be better off just doing one task after another. Answering e-mails and talking to someone on the phone at the same time might seem like a good use of your time, but it really isn’t. Focus on one thing at a time, and try to be completely present in the moment.
Good to see multitasking slated among these 3 tips to boost your focus and productivity. Why? Not only is multitasking proven to be highly inefficient but it’s also proven to be damaging to our brains. Our brains weren’t designed to switch from task to task all day long. A study at Harvard found that those who multitask were less able to concentrate and it affected their memories. You may argue though that it’s impractical not to multitask. Eben Pagan advises to do “enlightened multitasking” – which is about scheduling your multitasking – opening yourself to distractions for a fixed period of time, say an hour before lunch and an hour at the end of your day. Then you can focus for the rest of the day. Genius.
When people and businesses spend all day online, it means that they’re open to distractions all day long. This, now normal way of work, has taken over from focused attention. And we all know now that multitasking is ineffective. Here are six tips to stay focused when everything needs our attention originally written by Dave Lerner for Young Entrepreneur, from which I’ve excerpted the first three. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to to read this article, they’re great advice for everyone requiring help to focus.
1. Batch your emails. By incorporating the simple routine of checking emails during defined and scheduled periods of time during each working day, a la Tim Ferriss, you will become less distracted and massively more productive. Don’t be afraid to have an auto-responding message that lets people know that this is how you operate.
2. Go off the grid. Every quarter take anywhere from a long weekend to a full week (whatever you can manage) where you go totally off the grid, a la Brad Feld. This means no emails or calls. It’s time for you to meditate and contemplate yourself and your business without distractions.
3. Just say no. During periods that are going to be incredibly busy, turn down all non-work related matters for three to four week stretches and just crank away. Some people may be miffed, but you can make it up to them afterwards.
I couldn’t agree more with 5 out of 6 of these six tips to stay focused when everything requires our attention. If you continued to read the whole article you’ll have see that it is advised to write a to-do list every morning. Whilst I believe a to-do list is essential, I think the best time to write it is at the end of your day for the following day. That way, it helps to turn your brain off, and you can sit down, fresh in the morning and crack on with your high priority tasks. This is another point, if you set yourself 3 top priority tasks that you must complete that day, this helps you focus your attention further.
We often hear about how some claim to be great at multitasking. But is it multitasking or task switching? The thing is, multitasking is a myth. Whilst you think you’re being immensely productive, the chances are that whatever you’re doing, you’re performing at an inferior level compared with if you were to focus on that task with 100% of your attention. See what Sue Barret has to say on FastCompany.com in this insightful article. She quotes this from an essay written on ’Recovering from information overload‘ from the McKinsey Quarterly:
Multitasking or Task Switching?
“When we switch between tasks, especially complex ones, we become startlingly less efficient: in a recent study, for example, participants who completed tasks in parallel took up to 30% longer and made twice as many errors as those who completed the same tasks in sequence. The delay comes from the fact that our brains can’t successfully tell us to perform two actions concurrently. When we switch tasks, our brains must choose to do so, turn off the cognitive rules for the old task, and turn on the rules for the new one. This takes time, which reduces productivity, particularly for heavy multitaskers – who, it seems, take even longer to switch between tasks than occasional multitaskers.
Do are you going to call it multitasking or task switching? Not only is multitasking highly ineffective but it’s damaging to our brains as you may have seen on this site a while ago. In case you missed it, here the important quotation from a study at Stanford:
Chronic multitaskers were mentally slower with lower levels of concentration than those who focussed on one activity at a time. In the long term, chronic multitaskers were found to be more forgetful. They might search all over the house for spectacles that are perched firmly on their heads, not remember where they put their cell phones, even have trouble recalling names, faces and important dates and engagements.
For the full article on ”It’s a brain, not an octapus, click here.
So if you’re still one who multitasks, maybe think about not doing it! Eben Pagan talks about “Enlightened multitasking” where you actually schedule a time in your day where you multitask (as it’s not entirely practical to not do it at all). During this time you turn off all distractions, like your email client, phones, any kind of alert you get so you can focus 100% of your attention on one task at a time. After a while, you feel like you’ve been freed from distractions. Genius.
Top 20 Tips From Entrepreneurs For Entrepreneurs“Network! Make connections and keep a record on each person you meet. Ask for their advice and help. Keep in touch with them along the way and build your network before you need it! Quality relationships are the keys to the kingdom.” – Clare Dreyer
2.) Focus, Focus and Focus
“Focus on ONE NICHE! And become the expert guru in that niche with your brand. Don’t get greedy! It’s the reason most quit by spreading themselves too thin.” – George Shepherd
3.) You Will Fail at Times
“Look forward to failure. This is how you learn to succeed. There is plenty of time to get it right — so go ahead and just do it — and get it wrong.” –Graham Phoenix
4.) Let Your Passion Drive You
“Find what you’re truly passionate about and go for it head on. Your passion driving you on your entrepreneurial journey. And understand there is NO Such THING AS BALANCE when you’re building your empire. There are things entrepreneurs do that others will not.” – Katerina Gasset
What was your favourite tip from these top 20 tips from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs? Along with no. 2 I’d have to say “let Your Passion Drive You” – could not be put into better words. Most people go through life drifting from job to job, with incremental salary increases, never taking risks and life an unfulfilled working life. (Sorry to be blunt.) At least as an entrepreneur, everything you put into your business, is what you get out of it, so if the energy you put into it is driven by sincere passion for it, there’s only one way for your business to go. Up. (Unless you’re trying to sell ice to Eskimos)
If you’re a procrastinator, you may be pleased to know that you are not alone. Just about everyone procrastinates. It’s natural to procrastinate because it’s normally done with tasks you least enjoy. These 12 ways to stop procrastinating should help you to focus on the tasks that you want to be doing, the tasks that you’re naturally good at, the ones where you’re focusing on your innate strengths and talents. One of my favourite pieces of advice is to delegate. If you don’t like doing something, pay someone else to do it. There may be people in your own office environment who love to do things that you loathe to do – do a swap!
12 Ways To Stop Procrastinating
“One of the things we preach a lot here is to set out a time management schedule for the next three, six or 12 months,” Smith suggests. “Schedule the major and minor goals, plus the milestones. It will mean each month you can break down what is important and what isn’t.”
2. Work when you work best
“Figure out your peak working times, work with your body and brain, not against them. You will be more energetic,” says Todd.
3. Shock: multitasking is a myth
Studies have revealed that our brains can’t multitask, they prefer to do one thing at a time. University of California psychology professor Russell Poldrack, who has researched the subject, recently told a US radio station: “When we sort of force ourselves to multitask, we’re driving ourselves to perhaps be less efficient in the long run even though it sometimes feels like we’re being more efficient.”
4. Focus on now
If you have a fear of failure try to get it into perspective by exaggerating how bad your failure could actually be – the more absurd the better for reminding you that nothing is that bad…
5. Delegate, delegate
If there are some tasks you just are not interested in find someone in your organisation who is and delegate. If it is task in your home life, outsource it. “It’s better to pay some $40 an hour to get something done than worry over it,” says Todd.
I’m happy multitasking has been described as ineffective among these 12 ways to stop procrastinating. Not only is it ineffective but it has been scientifically proven to be damaging to our brains. Our brains were not designed to constantly switch from task to task. Chronic multitaskers have been found to be forgetful, mentally slower and with lower concentration levels. Click here to view an older post on the damaging effects of multitasking. The best piece of advice is to delegate I think, then you’ll focus on the things that you’re naturally good at. If you work for yourself, from home for example, as I do, there are outsourcing desks like Elance.com where you can post a job, and contractors will submit a bid to do the work. You check out their ratings, portfolio and reputation and Bob’s your uncle. And they’re normally much cheaper than your own hourly rate – and much more efficient because they’re doing what they want to be doing so you can focus on what you want to be doing.
If you’re one to get overwhelmed by never ending to-do lists, this free tool for focus and productivity called Workflowy should ease the pressure and help you to get organised. Watch this very brief explanation and see how it can work for you. I’ve literally just signed up. At first glance it looks good! You can use it on the go the go on your ipod or ipad, although you’ll need to wait a while for an app on Android.
Here’s a review from Agbeat:
Workflowy can be used for a variety of professional tasks. It allows you to create an ongoing journal, plan and create outlines, keep track of your to-do list, and even collaborate with coworkers on both small and large projects. Workflowy helps you create massive amounts of content and data and then organize it through minimizing and maximizing what you want to see through the drop down formatting.
If you’re the type that has many projects going on at once, not to mention trying to keep on top of your personal life, Workflowy gives you the control you’re looking for. It’s also an easy way to work closely with other members of your team in a well-orchestrated environment that promotes productivity and clarity. Start the list and let your coworkers add their thoughts to the outline.
Share this free tool for focus and productivity with anyone you feel would benefit from it. It’s free after all!