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How to Strengthen Your Focus and Become More Productive (Pt 1)

Cynthia Hull

Our lives are busier than ever. Our expectations for success, career & personal, are higher than ever. We have laptops, tablets, & smart phones loaded with apps to make our lives run smoothly. Our goals are reached and our dreams are reality, right?
Not so much. Many of us struggle to get check off items on our to-do lists, with tasks lingering from day to day.

The paradox is this: the technology that is promised to make our lives easier has actually made us less productive. We are constantly tuned in and online, multitasking every minute of the day.

Yet we aren’t reaching our goals and our dreams seem further away than ever before. What are we missing?


FOCUS


The key to being productive is FOCUS. People who have reached success learned this long ago. 

“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” ~Marcus Aurelius

When you focus on the task at hand you are more likely to complete it. When you master the habit of focusing on what you are doing you are more likely to have a sense of fulfillment and productivity. When you are consistently reaching your goals and manifesting your dreams you will wake up each day eager and energized.
In this series on FOCUS you will:
  • Learn why focus is important in both your personal and professional life
  • Learn tips and strategies on gaining and keeping your focus
  • Learn why multitasking is one of the most overrated skills people claim to have
  • Learn why you shouldn’t be multitasking, and what to do instead
Let’s get started.

The Importance of FOCUS


Focus on the task. Sounds simple. We all have examples from our lives that prove that focusing, single-mindedly working on one thing, produces quality work. Remember cramming for an exam? You blocked out everything else, ignored everyone around you and focused on the information you needed to retain and understand to get a good grade. You were focused.

What about the times you stayed at the office after everyone left? Or got there hours early or worked on the weekend? You produced the reports or projects in a fraction of the time it takes when the office is full of people, ringing phones, and interruptions. You were focused.

We all know that directing our energy to a single task produces high quality results in less time. When the task is complete, your stress levels decrease. Less stress = happier you.

If we know focusing works, why don’t we do it more often? It’s difficult for people to remain focused on one task for a variety of reasons. For one, we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with TV, radio, cell phones, Internet, & social media.
Remember, when you clear distractions and focus:  
  • Tasks are completed more quickly
  • You make fewer mistakes
  • You produce superior work
  • Your creativity grows
  • Stress decreases
  • Thought processes improve.

Stop Multitasking

It is time to banish the myth that multitasking increases productivity. In fact, the opposite is true.

We all spend hours every day multitasking. You’re probably so used to juggling tasks, you don’t even realize when you’re doing it. Do you read email while you are on the phone? Text while shopping? Listen to a conference call while writing a report?
Do you have to reread email because you were listening to your caller? Or ask your caller to repeat themselves? Get home without everything on your shopping list? Text your grocery list items instead of an appropriate response? Does your report have errors? Do you remember what action items resulted from the conference call?

Multitasking is a myth and is counterproductive. Don’t take my word, listen to the experts: 
  • Multitasking leads to attention and memory loss. According to a study by Harvard Professor Clifford Nass, in findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, people who use online social media and other forms of electronic communications have trouble focusing their attention and have lower scores on memory tests.
  • Cognitive performance is diminished. A recent study by Zheng Wang, a professor at Ohio State University, showed that multitasking caused students to feel more productive, but showed they were actually reducing their cognitive skills abilities such as studying.
  • It is rude and disrespectful. It turns people off when you are interacting with them. People who multitask often find themselves coming in contact with others. If you only half pay attention to them, answering texts and phone calls while talking to them, you will lose their respect.
So now we know what not to do. Focusing on the task at hand is far better for productivity than multitasking on several tasks.

The next two parts will examine methods to increase our focus and be more productive. 
Productivity Report Part 2
Productivity Report Part 3

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