By Maura Thomas
The secret to not only being more productive, but to living the life you want, comes down to your ability to control your attention. It’s a big problem, because first you have to consider all of the external demands on your attention, like your computer, phones, instant messages, text messages, Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook communications, snail mail, email, Skype, co-workers, family, and on and on. It’s important to recognize who’s the boss: you or your technology? If you always allow your attention to be stolen every time someone else wants it (which is always!) then you will never have the opportunity to be proactive: to make progress on those things that are important to YOU, for today, this month, this year, or this lifetime. I call these your significant results, and my definition of being productive is the extent to which you make progress on those significant results.
So the first piece is learning how to control the external distractions. But there is a second piece to achieving your significant results: effectively managing the internal distractions: you are probably the person who interrupts yourself the most!
Consider that your brain is not obedient. It does not behave exactly the way you would like it to, all the time. If you’re a busy person with a full life, then your brain is probably constantly spinning with:
- Curiosity and unanswered questions
- Thrill seeking/socializing/”what am I missing” syndrome
- Incomplete tasks
- Commitments and responsibilities
- Uncaptured ideas you’d like to remember
- All the things you aren’t doing right now.
The solution to dealing with the internal distractions is a process and a methodology for managing all the details it takes to run your life and work. You need a way to capture everything, a place to put it, a method for retrieving it, exactly when you need it, and a way to make it immediately actionable. The warning signs that you need a solution are when you’re feeling any of the following:
- Like you are “too” busy
- A little (or a lot!) overwhelmed
- Things are starting to slip through the cracks
- You work a lot, but you aren’t making enough progress on your important goals
- You love your busy life but you’re also a little exhausted by it.
Once you’ve learned how to get a handle on all of these internal and external distractions, your brain will quiet, and your ability to focus will be enhanced. You’ll be supporting your own attention rather than sabotaging it. You’ll feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat of your life and work.
I will be at the next Blogathon and I’d be happy to discuss with you any issues you may be having, or call me at 424-22-MAURA (424-226-2872 – advice is always free!) In the meantime, other free and low cost ways to get help are to visit my website, check out my book, or attend my upcoming seminar in Austin, TX.
Maura Thomas is a speaker, trainer, and founder of RegainYourTime.com, and the author invited by Wiley Publishing to write Personal Productivity Secrets: Do more than you ever thought possible with your time and attention, and regain control of your life! RegainYourTime.com is a proud sponsor of BlogathonATX.