In the current attention economy, focusing and getting things done is more difficult than ever. From all directions, we’re being thrown distractions after distractions that our brain has been programmed to crave. Here are a few tips that have worked for me personally:
1. Audit Your Attention – the simple act of finding out how you spend your time is a game changer. You’ll be surprised to know how much time you have on your hands once you’ve cut out bad distractions. And afterwards, you can use that free time to do more meaningful things.
2. Main and Sides – This is my personal way of organizing my work. ‘Main’ is for the heavier tasks of the day (writing, creating etc) and it’s important that you don’t have too much ‘Mains’ within a single day (2-3 would suffice). Don’t overwhelm yourself!
As for sides (texting people, replying emails, sending reminders, amending details) however, it’s better to stack it up with things that can be done in less than 2 minutes. Because they’re just small tasks, I try to make sure that I complete all my ‘sides’.
Differentiating ‘Main’ and ‘Sides’ also helps you to prioritize! Better to finish all the ‘sides’ but it’s okay to resume ‘main’ on the next day.
3. Reward System – I remember on one of my best days in work, I was very focused in the morning and got a lot of work done. The technique is to be very clear on the task at hand, remove distractions and just hone in all your focus to get that work completed. And in the afternoon, you can loosen up a bit and feel less guilty in, let’s say, catching up with news and culture.