Simple Ways to Master Productivity.

James Kingham - The Online Startup Pro

Focus is the ultimate secret weapon of the most effective, productive and successful people on the planet. Focusing on just one thing at a time however is one of those “looks simple to do” kind of things. Unfortunately it’s far from easy to achieve. Difficult or not this is one area you absolutely must master if you want to be become super productive.

Despite what many people believe, think or may have told you, we are just plan poor at multitasking. Now I know some people use multitasking as a badge of honour to demonstrate their prowess at just how great they think they are at juggling “lots of stuff “ at once and that’s the problem. Serial multitasker’s spend their most valuable resource (time) focused on the juggling and maintenance element of task management and in doing so fail to progress or complete anything of substance.

Guy Winch, a PhD and author of the book “Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries explains that we never multitask in the real sense of the word. What we actually do from a cognitive perspective is we task-switch. The problem with the task-switching process is the associated cost in time, effort and focus that’s needed for the brain to realign between different tasks. It’s this constant switching process that occurs when managing multiple tasks that causes our diminished productivity. What’s more concerning though is that the detrimental effects of task-switching are cumulative.

Over time it has been estimated that we can lose up to 40% of our cognitive power through ineffective task-switching. A Lack of dedicated focus is quite literally draining your brain power, diminishing attention span and decreasing your ability to perform.  If you want a quick demonstration of how your brain likes to work and the reason why multitasking is so ineffective try this simple exercise.

In your mind focus on the low granular level detail of a task or activity. Then try to focus in the same way on a second task or activity.  If you do this correctly you will quickly discover that nye on impossible to consciously think about or focus in detail on more than one thing at a time, yet that’s exactly what we try and do when multitasking.

We all know people who spend most of their time caught in the busy being busy trap, that’s the multitasker at work. The multitasker’s job is never done and they will forever be busy because juggling or “plate spinning” as it’s often referred too is not about completion it’s about maintaining a constant state of “work in progress” that’s rarely if ever truly completed. Working in this way not only thwarts productivity it means you will never achieve the outcomes and results you expect, want or need.

OnlineStartup pro Insight: It’s a scientifically proven fact that the more tasks we take on the more our attention, focus, standards and ability to complete quality work becomes diluted. By multitasking we are actually killing our ability to be effective rather than increasing it.

Now I know that keeping focused especially for long periods of time is a lot easier said than done. Our nature is one of high energy, short attention spans and fleeting ideas and as such we often find it difficult to focus on just one thing at a time. I struggle with this myself. Unfortunately there is no known cure for this fallacy it’s built right into our DNA. What you can do however is learn how to harness and manage those gifts effectively. Having a single focus strategy will not only accelerate your results but will also allow you to be more selective about your time and more importantly what you put into it.

For many of us our limited focus is lost on the minutiae of being busy, often-wasting hours of valuable productivity time achieving very little. Try this to highlight how productive you can be with a single focused mindset. Set a timer for just one hour and focus on one piece of work or one task. Do not allow any interruptions. Keep 100% attention on that specific task.

At the end of the hour you will be amazed at just how much you will have achieved by focusing on “the one thing”.  Don’t take my word for it just go and try it for a couple of hours. Even better try it for a day or two. Focus on completion before moving onto something new. You will not only realise just how much can be achieved in a one day you will also quickly expose the raft of wastefulness that surreptitiously creeps in and steals your time and detracts your efforts, both of which are limited in supply.

Online Startup Pro Insight: Being singularly focused on one specific task is how the most productive people get done in 1 month what others take 6 months or more to complete. Often this is enough of an advantage to deliver the unbeatable differentiation you need.