Improving Your Concentration

We're talking today about strategies for keeping your focus. (C) 2015 Laura Stack, All Rights Reserved. … [Read more...]

Distractions and the Open Office Environment

Distractions and the Open Office Environment By Laura Stack #productivity

Many workplaces today feature more open spaces and smaller, and often shared, workstations. These open floor plans have become “the new normal” in many organizations. Some people speak of them positively, citing the ability to collaborate with coworkers and the creative feeling they can inspire. However, I hear just as many complaints about the walk-in visitors, interruptions, and noise level negatively affecting workplace satisfaction, productivity, and speech privacy. According to research from UC Irvine, office workers are interrupted once every 11 minutes, and it can take up to 23 minutes to get back to what you were doing before you were interrupted. The brain isn't a marvel of infinite capacity; we are, after all, only human, with all the limitations that implies. One limitation … [Read more...]

Walking the Tightrope

Walking the Tightrope by Laura Stack #productivity

I realize all you young go-getters would work 25/8 if possible; however, heed this advice from a 20-year business veteran who tried that: 1. You can't maintain a breakneck pace forever. Sure, you have to invest plenty of time getting your business aloft, but you shouldn't still be working so hard three years later. Something's gotta give—don't let it be you. 2. Protect your time. Keep external challenges from destroying your focus and eating your precious time. Block out time to concentrate on your strategic priorities and erect barriers against interruptions. 3. Know when to unplug. If you don’t take care of yourself and get the R&R you need, you won’t have the energy to take care of your business and other people. Carve out personal time to do the things you enjoy, away from … [Read more...]

Obsessive or Productive? The Difference Between Being Focused and Rigid

"Choose your productive obsession right now. Maybe you know exactly which one to select. Even if you're positive, give your idea a once-over and make sure it meets your current meaning needs and intentions..." -- Eric and Ann Maisel, authors of Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions. "Being taught that more is better, we're jumping to erroneous conclusions way too early, and all of a sudden being more productive has no limits in terms of enough." -- Slavko Desik, business blogger. While superior productivity is neither simple nor easily reduced to its component parts, most people would universally agree that productivity requires a focus on priorities—a focus that excludes the extraneous, stripping away anything that doesn't contribute to a specific goal. Some might … [Read more...]

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Attention: What Grabs Your Focus

"I'm so poor I can't even pay attention." -- American folk saying. "The cobra feeling is an almost muscular albeit mental bearing-down on a subject or object, which you rise above, hood flaring to block distractions, and hold steady in your unblinking focus." -- Winifred Gallagher, author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. What we call "civilization" dates back no more than a few thousand years—and in many ways, our biology has not yet caught up to our culture. Back in our nomadic hunter-gatherer days, Mother Nature shaped us to respond to the natural environment in ways that kept us safe. Those who listened to their protective instincts lived to fight another day—and to have babies. When a dry whirring at your feet meant Snake! and a glimpse of movement out of the corner of your … [Read more...]

Tightening Your Focus

The modern leader's biggest problems rarely stem from a lack of commitment or work ethic. Most of us are quite willing to work hard, and often for a distressing number of hours. And it's not as if we don't understand time management; anyone who has made it to a significant leadership position has mastered the basics, or they wouldn't occupy their current post. The real problem is that many leaders haven't learned to expand and refocus their understanding of time management to take into account the realities of their new positions—even as they accrue more and more power over the lives and livelihoods of more and more people. As you climb the corporate ladder, your ability to focus on your strategic priorities becomes increasingly important. With every rung, your actions impact the company … [Read more...]

Nailing It: Helping Others Implement Your Strategy

"The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy." -- Michael Porter Your value as a leader stems largely from your role as team visionary, the person who defines the priorities for your group. In the modern workplace, you do this best not by executing decisions, but by engaging your team members’ energies. Your ultimate goal should be to channel their efforts, abilities, and dedication in such a way that they align as closely as possible with the strategic priorities of your organization. So easy to say—but so hard to do. Once you've formulated your strategy, be prepared to focus like a laser and direct every bit of energy you can spare toward implementation. That doesn't mean you have to run yourself into the ground to accomplish this, but you do have … [Read more...]

The “Work Less, More Success” Guide to Time Management – Step Three

Continuing with our series on the Productivity Workflow Formula™ (PWF) Step 3: Focus Your Attention: REDUCE YOUR DISTRACTIONS So as you embark on your voyage of self-improvement, don't get in a hurry. Accept that developing a new routine takes time. Leo Babauta, the author of the influential Zen Habits blog, recommends setting yourself a 30-day challenge for changing each habit. In this step, you reduce distractions so you can hone your focus to razor sharpness. Once you know exactly what you should be doing and have captured time to do it, you must focus on completing that important task. Distractions represent some of the worst productivity hurdles; even if they drag your attention away for just a few seconds at a time, they can cause you to lose your train of thought and fall out of … [Read more...]

Dealing With Distractions and Interruptions: Strategies for Staying Focused on Important Tasks

Dealing With Distractions and Interruptions: Strategies for Staying Focused on Important Tasks by Laura Stack #productivity

More than ever, modern workers are bedeviled by distractions and interruptions that pull us away from the key activities of our jobs. If it's not your noisy office-mates, it's the siren song of the Internet, or an over-fascination with email. Therefore, it's imperative that you learn to trim your activities down to the few things that are truly important, so you can actually get your job done and become both the envy of your peers and the apple of your boss's eye. Proper focus requires discipline and mastery to achieve, like any other skill. In this article, I'll help you get started in your quest to wield your focus like a blade, stripping away the things that keep you from getting your work done on time and under budget. Let's start with one of the worse culprits: your … [Read more...]

The Productive Entrepreneur: Run Your 1-Person Business Like a 3-Person Business

The Productive Entrepreneur: Run Your 1-Person Business Like a 3-Person Business by Laura Stack #productivity

While it's wonderful not to have to worry about the drama or indignities of the typical corporate job, as a "solopreneur," you face certain difficulties that larger businesses don't—not least the fact that you have to wear all the hats at once. Obviously, that's not an impossible task; at last count, there were about 20 million single-person businesses in the USA, accounting for a whopping three-quarters of all businesses. This does not, however, mean that it's easy. If you expect to succeed as an entrepreneur, hard work is a given. Now, we've all heard the business cliché "Work smarter, not harder"—and while that statement does hold a grain of truth, you actually have to do both. True productivity means working hard by working smart, using every business technique you can implement as … [Read more...]