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  • The Secret to Productivity: Focus

    shutterstock_125697008Technology has helped us do so much more, so much faster. But many experts argue that work-related systems and tools haven’t necessarily made us more productive. How many times does your phone, tablet or computer chime to indicate email or a Facebook notification? The reality is that while technology has the ability to improve productivity, too many people allow it to distract. Ultimately, the key to getting more done in less time requires focus. A cluttered, overly busy mind is like a cluttered, messy home; it takes too long to find stuff and get things done. Here are tips to improving focus.

    Stop switch-tasking. You find a lot of articles on how to multitask, but in fact, it’s nearly impossible to multitask work tasks. Multitasking implies doing more than one thing simultaneously. Multitasking itself isn’t impossible. You can walk and chew gum at the same time, but neither of those requires focus. When you’re involved in tasks that require focus, multitasking is impossible. So when you think you’re multitasking, you’re actually switch-tasking, alternating between multiple tasks. While that can result in getting things done, the time it takes to leave one task, refocus, do another task, leave that task to refocus on the first task again, wastes time over giving 100% to one task until completion and then moving to give total focus to the next task.

    Schedule tasks in blocks of time. If you have several things you need to get done, instead of going back and forth, schedule each a chunk of time where you can focus on one and when time is up change to the other. If you’re concerned about getting so involved that you lose time and don’t get to the next tasks, set a timer.

    Focus on the one-thing. Not all tasks carry the same weight in importance. Instead prioritize your tasks so that you’re achieving the things create the most results.

    Turn off notifications including the ringer on your phone. Each chime or ring, even if you don’t respond to it, is an interruption.

    Wear headphones. You can even listen to music if it doesn’t distract you. Headphones can eliminate all ambient noise, such as trucks, copiers and other distractions that occur in your office. Let your colleagues know that they shouldn’t interrupt when the headphones are on unless it’s an emergency.

    Keep your work area organized based on how you work. That doesn’t mean you can’t have stacks or Post-Its everywhere. What it means is that you need to design your work area in a way supports your work.

    Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She's appeared on CNN.com, Fox Business, Redbook and a host of other media outlets discussing telecommuting, home business and other flexible career option. She speaks regularly on career-related topics, including telecommuting, home business, marketing, personal development and authorship. Learn more about her at LeslieTruex.com.

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