How to Improve Time Management: The Blockers to Focus
Contrary to popular opinion about multi-tasking being a higher form of skill than the individual who just does one thing at a time, the key to Productivity+Efficiency=Time Management is focus.
Now this is no great revelation: most good time management/ productivity books will highlight focus as being the ‘magic’ ingredient or key to success.
However, until recently I have felt similar sentiments on this to that portrayed in my comment in my post on Mindfulness: Learning in the Task: ‘I have always challenged that multi-tasking, or at the very least thinking about something else whilst doing the things you can mundanely/ unconsciously do is a higher form of skill. That just focusing utterly and mindfully on one thing is time wasting’
I think that a number of things have shifted in my views. The value of focus is starting to glimmer through the clearing mists of ‘to-do’s’ as my own personal productivity improves. I have identified the following as a ‘starter for ten’ on things that facilitate or block your ability to focus:
1. Stress, or challenges in managing workload, act to make all your other outstanding tasks siren call to your focus: as you relax into your systems and your personal commitments to those systems, so these voices quieten
2. As your personal visions and goals start to take hold (with the underlying project plans), similarly to 1. above, your sense of prioritisation adds weight to your focus: you know that you’re right to be doing what you’re doing when you’re doing it
3. Balance: without balance in work and work/life, you don’t have the currency to give a value to the things that you should be focusing on, and those that need to wait for a future focus slot. Balance, or for a lot of busy people read “anything other than work”, puts things into perspective. The perspective provides priority and priority provides focus
4. Trust (this is where I’m still getting stuck): kind of an amalgam of all the points above, ultimately you need to trust the power of focus. This involves parking everything else for that 30/60/90 minutes. That’s hard, but I’m finding that the combined power of the first three can tip the balance into trust.
I have written a few posts on the power of focus, including:
Thrashing and the Power of Focus: The Simple Truth – does the conscious mind act against you? Convincing you that something so simple as focus couldn’t be so powerful?
The Balance Between Focus and Multi-Tasking– a contrary post. Are we learning (for the good?) to be a new breed of multi-tasking/ multi-information source managing ‘hyper-executives’ ?
Specialisation and The Power of Focus – the application of focus to corporate strategy
Zen Habits takes the subject to a whole new level looking at the magical power of focus