Distracted? Learn how to (re)focus Premium

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Do you feel you fight against a constant onslaught of workplace distractions? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that office workers are interrupted on average every three minutes and spend almost a third of their day recovering from those interruptions. In the current “age of distraction,” we could all benefit from a lesson in the art of focus!

Define your ONE Thing…. and put everything else aside
To identify what deserves your focus more than anything else, Gary Keller suggests asking yourself the following question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Once you have identified that one big goal, Keller recommends drilling down methodically to identify the first small priority you should do right now, what he calls “goal setting to the now.” He suggests spending the bulk of your time and energy (about four hours a day) on achieving your ONE top priority and then using any remaining time to address all other work issues as best you can.

Stop multitasking
Researchers have found that multitasking carries two disturbing side effects: decreased ability to filter out irrelevant information and decreased working memory capacity. According to Gary Keller, multitasking is a misnomer: what we’re actually doing is task switching, and every switch lengthens the time it takes to complete tasks by 25% to 100%, depending on their complexity. “Researchers estimate that we lose 28% of an average workday to multitasking ineffectiveness.”

Block your time
Focusing on your ONE Thing to the exclusion of all else makes balance impossible. But that’s okay! Other tasks will pile up and you will deal with them as best you can after you are done working on your ONE Thing. The important thing is to protect yourself from outside distraction while you’re trying to focus. Here are four ways to protect the time you block for your ONE Thing:
1. Build a bunker: Find somewhere to work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption — even if this means leaving the office!
2. Store provisions: Have any supplies you need on hand and, other than for a bathroom break, avoid leaving your bunker.
3. Sweep for mines: Turn off your phone, shut down your email, and exit your Internet browser.
4. Enlist support: Tell those most likely to seek you out what you’re doing and when you’ll be available. It’s amazing how accommodating others are when they see the big picture and know when they can access you.

Read our dossier :
Distracted? Learn how to (re)focus

USBD24101Based on The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (Bard Press, April 2013), Focus: Use the power of targeted thinking to get more done by Jurgen Wolff (Pearson, 2010, 2nd ed) and “Train Your Brain to Focus” by Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore (Harvard Business Review, January 2012) and the interview with Rusty Shelton, founder and CEO, Shelton Interactive, October 2013.
Business Digest nº 241, november 2013.


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