Staying focused and being productive can be tough at the best of times. Throw in the reality of 2020, and it seems near impossible. Luckily, it’s actually more within reach than you might think!
Marshal your attention and pick up your productivity with these top tips from Matt Comand, productivity pro from high-performance consulting firm, Emergent.
Want even more? Be sure to watch our full webinar session, Increasing Focus and Productivity, for even more actionable advice.
1. Learn Your Focus Anchors
Understanding where your attention is when you’re at your best is a key driver for high performance. Focusing is often straightforward, but re-focusing is where most people get stuck. That's where Focus Anchors (short cue words or terms) come in.
Knowing where to return your attention to when you’re distracted is one of the most important mental skills you can learn.
Answering questions like "What information do I need to make great decisions?" and "Where's my attention when I feel the most engaged or authentic?" are a great way to start discovering your focus anchors.
When you notice that you're distracted, you can direct your attention back to your Focus Anchor and get back on track.
2. Focus on Process Over Outcome
Society constantly bombards us with outcomes and results—who won last night's baseball game, who the top sales rep is, the company's latest earnings in the last quarter, etc. But there’s never any mention of the process and the smaller steps it takes to get there.
This imbalanced approach to performance makes us feel distracted and frustrated. Direct your attention to the task at hand and detach yourself from the outcome. It’s the best way to improve performance and be truly immersed in what we're doing.
Ask yourself how you're going to achieve your Outcome Goals is a great place to start. The more specific and detailed your answers are, the better!
3. Ground Yourself in the Present
The past and the future are two of the biggest distractions we face, both personally and professionally. Mistakes and setbacks keep us in the past and we're often fearful of negative outcomes in the future.
When we’re totally engaged in the present, the parts of our brain responsible for problem-solving, productivity, communication, collaboration, and creativity are flooded with activity and self-consciousness is kept at bay, allowing us to use all of our energy and focus on solving the task at hand.
Taking five to ten deep breaths before you start your day, when you get home from work, and/or before you go to sleep are great ways to get started. “I Am” statements (e.g. “I am at my desk writing an email,” or “I am sitting in traffic”) and using the five senses (e.g. I see kids playing in the park, I hear birds chirping outside my window) are other effective methods to ground yourself in the moment.
If you need a reminder, try booking time in your calendar at work or setting reminders on your phone.
4. Get Comfortable with Mental Skills and Strategies
There are plenty of productivity tools and techniques. Finding the right one for you is crucial.
Using “I Am” statements might feel more comfortable for you than using the five senses to ground you to the present moment, or vice-versa—and that's completely fine!
Work through your initial hesitation to give each strategy a chance and then determine what works best for you and when you can implement it in your daily life.
5. Use Video to Increase Efficiency and Communicate Better
Time management is super important—especially saving time, but the average workday is full of time sucking vortexes that make it tough to make the most of the time you have. For instance, the average meeting is an hour long. More than one in your day, and the minutes start disappearing.
Try using video internally to get time back in your calendar. Instead of an hour-long meeting, record and share key updates for meeting attendees to review prior to the call, then set the meeting itself for half the time. In some cases you might even be able to replace the meeting entirely.
Another way video can save you time is when you're answering a question or delivering feedback. Instead of walking through everything in a lengthy email, capture a quick video to explain with visuals (like this one). Read our blog on asynchronous video for more time-saving ideas and our post of Vidyard hacks to see how you can use features like doodling or speaker notes to save even more time.
Be sure to check out the on-demand recording of the session for more tips and exercises on how to use your focus and attention as a high performance mindset tool today.