How to Increase Focus and Double Your Productivity in just 20 minutesFeb 23, 2020
Let me start by saying this will not be an article urging you to turn off your Instagram notifications or put your phone on airplane mode to minimize distractions.
I'm assuming that you already know that. And let’s be honest, when it comes to our inability to focus, It's not our phone notifications that are the biggest problem. Most of the time we actively distract ourselves!
We intentionally seek out things that take our time, effort and energy away from our highest priority activities. Turning off your notifications won't stop you from pulling your phone out and checking your social media feed every 15 mins for a quick mental vacation.
Why can't we just zero-in on what needs to get done, and do it?
This article will tackle the deep layers of the Focus epidemic and show you how you can overcome self-sabotage to get dialed-in and Double (yes, I said DOUBLE) your output!
Let's look at the different levels of FOCUS
Most people just try to address the surface level of focus, which is their inability to focus on the task at hand. This is where the distractions of the day prevail. Text messages, notifications, social media, news, family obligations, responsibilities, etc.
As you can see, fighting distractions to concentrate on the task at hand is the thinnest layer of focus, but it's the one that's most visible. In order to fix the surface-level distractions, you have to address the more core layers of focus.
At the very root of laser-like focus, is a deep connection to your goals and vision. When you are deeply connected and driven by your goals, you will have a deeper understanding of which activities have the highest impact towards accomplishing those goals. And when you have a deeper understanding and urgency for those High Impact Activities, you will be able to laser in, follow through and execute those tasks without getting distracted.
You can't just address the top layer without addressing the deeper layers. Even if you safeguard yourself from all distractions, without a deep connection to your goals and vision, you won't have a sense of urgency around your high-impact activities and therefore, you will actively seek out distractions during the day.
This 4-step process is what I have been teaching people for years and hands down, it takes people from stressed, overwhelmed and ineffective, to a dialed-in, high producing machine!
So Pull out your notebook and let's get started!
This is how most people start their day
This is what we wake up to every morning. We wake up into notifications, emails, text messages, social media pings, DM's, family obligations, kid's soccer practices, drama, stress, worry, anxiety, fire, fire, fire!!
We run out the door right into the chaos and then bounce around all day doing random, unimportant trivial tasks... staying very "busy", but not making any real progress.
This is what leads to exhaustion... frustration... and ultimately, burn-out.
- Start each morning with this 4 step process to help you get ordered, organized and hyper-focused before running into the burning flames of the day!
If you're familiar with how a funnel works, it takes a large volume of a substance and channels it down into a concentrated stream.
This is exactly what we need to do with our time and energy.
We need to take the large volume of chaos, confusion, distractions, and time killers and funnel it down to a highly focused stream of high impact activity.
People who master this process are typically "Done before Lunch" which means that they have done all of their most important actions before lunchtime.
- Imagine how much more freedom you would have if you could be Done before lunch every day!
Are you excited yet? Let's dive in!
The 4C's of the Focus Funnel
Step 1: Clear the Clutter
When a computer has too much stuff stored in its memory, it becomes sluggish and stalls. In order for a computer to run at its optimal speed, it first has to clear its memory.
Our brains work the same way. When we are holding on to too much stuff (obligations, responsibilities, tasks, to-do's, strategies, projects, etc.) it weighs us down. Our brains are overloaded so we get stressed and overwhelmed trying to process it all.... until we slow down to a halt.
By first CLEARING out the clutter of your mind, you can then sort, process and prioritize the most important things so you can run full speed again.
HERE'S HOW YOU DO IT:
- Start each morning with Flow Meditation. This is a little different from a typical meditation where you are trying to slow the mind down by focusing on the breath. Flow mediation encourages the mind to "flow". You are just sitting still with no distractions so your mind can wander, day-dream, process and flush out everything that it's holding on to.
- Have a journal handy so as ideas and inspirations come up, you can write them down. Do this for at least 10 minutes each morning and this will flush out everything that your brain is holding on to. By the time you finish, you will have a page full of stuff that your brain flushed out. Now you can actually see everything that was in your head and process it more effectively.
- Pro tip - I listen to some soft, transient meditation music. This drowns out my outside environment and helps me go deeper internally to flush everything out. Click here for a good 10 minute Flow Meditation track to listen to!
Step 2: Connect to your Goals
When you are trying to navigate to a destination that you've never been to before, the first thing you have to do is type in the end destination into your GPS. After you have declared the end destination, the GPS can route you on your turn-by-turn guidance.
Your Goals are your 'end destination' and you have to declare it first before you just go out and start driving through your day. If you don't, you could find yourself just driving in circles all day long, not making any progress on your route.
By connecting to your goals every day, they become "top of mind" and that will help you filter your activity so that everything you do aligns with your goals.
It also adds a sense of urgency and helps keep your attention focused on those actions that move your goals forward and not the busy work that makes little contribution to your progress.
HERE'S HOW YOU DO IT:
- Get a journal and write your top 3 Goals. These are your Annual goals... not your daily goals. That comes later in the process.
- I categorize my goals into 3 buckets... Finance, Fitness & Family.
- Pro-tip - Write them down EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! By writing them every day, you will become obsessed over them and this "healthy obsession" keeps you on track!
Step 3: Condense the List
You ever get stuck doing trivial work all day? Monitoring your inbox like a hawk... waiting for any small, minuscule requests so you can keep up the facade that you're “busy”... all the while, you procrastinate on the big things that really make the difference.
Let me explain why this happens.
Our brains are built for efficiency. that's how we've been able to evolve over millions of years to become to the dominant species. Your brain will default to you exerting the least amount of energy as possible so you can preserve your energy for "life or death" situations.
It's a survival mechanism that's built into our brains that have allowed us to run from danger and hunt to feed ourselves. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism now surfaces in the form of procrastination and doing non-important things all day long.
When you don't explicitly tell your brain what's important, it will automatically default to doing the things that exert the least amount of 'brain power' like constantly checking email or social media or chasing any small shiny objects all day to avoid doing the heavy, more exhaustive (more important) work.
Therefore, you must give your brain very clear instructions on what it should focus on for the day.
HERE'S HOW YOU DO IT:
- After you've connected to your goals, your brain will start dumping out all the things that you need to do for each of the goals. It will be a brain dump of "to-do" items.
- Condense this list by identifying which of the items have the Highest-Impact towards moving your goals forward. I call these "High Impact Activities." Put a little star next to them or an exclamation point so it's easy to differentiate them from the other tasks.
- Your HIA's should be the big heavy actions like prospecting for new business, etc. It should be the hard things that you don't want to do.
- Pro-tip - If it's hard and you don't want to do it... that's probably a High Impact Activity!
Step 4: Calendar your High Impact Activities
A recent study was done by _______ where students were notified of an upcoming test. One group was told to make sure that they study 2 hours per day, and the other group was told to study from 8am - 10am every day. Both groups were asked to study 2 hours each day... but the second group was actually scheduled their study session at a specific time. The second group got much higher test scores!
Why? It was found that the second group was twice as likely to follow through and study because it was scheduled for a specific time. Just the simple act of assigning a time to a task drastically improved their ability to focus on that task, follow through and complete it!
"A to-do list is where good intentions go to die! It's just a wish list of things that you would like to do at some point, but there's no real commitment to doing them.
When you put something on your calendar, you commit to it. Your High-Impact Activities should have the same urgency as important appointments, so you should treat them the same way by scheduling that time out on your calendar!
HERE'S HOW TO DO IT:
- Now that you've identified your High Impact Actions for the day, schedule them on your calendar as if they are important appointments
- Don't just say "i'm going to follow up with my leads today". Say "I'm going to follow up with leads from 2-4pm" and actually block that time out on your calendar.
- Pro-tip - Schedule every minute of your day! Here's a picture of what my calendar looks like on a typical day. Every single minute is blocked out with intention. This keeps me on task all day long and hyper-focused!
The bottom line is that you will need a system... a process... a routine that you do every day to get yourself organized and dialed in. This 4-step process is what I've been teaching for 3 years and it DOUBLES PRODUCTIVITY and transforms people's lives!
- Step 1: Clear the clutter by practicing flow meditation
- Step 2. Connect to your goals by writing them down
- Step 3. Condense your list and prioritize your High Impact Activities for the day
- Step 4. Calendar all of your High Impact Activities to keep you on task and on track!
You can also join a Morning Hero Accountability Mastermind where you will do this process with a group of high achievers every morning to ensure that you start your day hyper-charged and hyper-focused!