Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Have Lost My Attention Span - How to Gain Focus

Years of business and focus on productivity - trying to get more done in less time has caused me to lose my attention span.  Technology has been a huge contributor.  Emails, cell phones, social media all contribute to "short" interactions and many of them.

This is not all good.  Much of the greatest value I can deliver comes from doing high focus activities.  Writing a thoughtful marketing plan.  Working out detailed terms sheets for a supplier.  Working on bigger plans.

I recognize this problem so like all challenges, I devise plans to solve it.  Some of my solutions:

1 - Time Blocking.  I set aside a set period of time - usually just 25-30 minutes.  I ignore my email and phone.  I close my door.  No one will be offended if I get back to them in 30 minutes.  This is the basis of the Pomodoro System I have blogged about in the past.

2 - I declutter the space I am working in.  At Danby, I have a desk in my office (and a stand up desk but that is another topic) and a conference table.  The conference table usually has nothing on it.  By moving to that table and only having the one big thing in front of me, it helps with focus.

3 - I (sometimes) work when no one else or few people are around.  For example, today is Saturday and no one but me is in the office (the outlet store is open and I stopped by to say hi but it is in a different section of the building so they do not interrupt me).

4 - I am goal oriented.  I write out my goals.  When I do this and prioritize I not only realize what is truly important but what I need to do.  The act of clarifying my goals helps me to focus.

5 - I allow myself to focus.  Yes - this is allowing.  I tend to feel guilt if I am not available 7/24.  By allowing my phone to go to voicemail or my emails to get answered slower without guilt, I am "allowing" myself.

6 - Review what is accomplished.  This is a bit like goal setting.  Reviewing what I have accomplished reinforces this habit of high focus times.  After all, high focus times tend to be the times I "accomplish" things.  This would be a good time for celebration - something I am not particularly good at.  I know I should celebrate more (more guilt coming through?)

I plan to focus more and know this will lead to more accomplishment.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Improving Self Discipline for New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year!  2016 is here.

Like all new years, today is the first day of the rest of your life so you can choose how to use it.

Each new years, I reflect on my goals.  And yes, I often set resolutions.   So of course, I try to figure out how to have more success and this is the conclusion I reached:

Self discipline is linked to energy levels.  When I am well rested and high energy, I have the drive, motivation and focus to accomplish my goals.  When I am tired, I find it too easy to "waste" time and not focus.

This link was recently driven home because I had the flu over Christmas - the real flu with fever, sleeping a lot, low grade headache and just feeling overall bad.  And I do not believe in being sick and never (rarely) do get sick.  But this bout taught me to discipline/energy link so perhaps it did serve a good purpose.  It also slowed my down through Christmas so I got the rest I clearly needed.

It was not a lack of self discipline to not be "working" and "accomplishing".  It was a lack of energy.

We all have some time wasting habits.  For many it is watching TV (not a problem for me since I have no TV).  For me, it can be idly surfing the web, watching youtube, playing online chess or bridge.  I find I can do these when I really should be sleeping.  So the only discipline I really need to cultivate is sleeping when I should.

This is an article I recently wrote on How the Increase Energy.

Most people want more self discipline.  But the real issue for most people is actually energy.  Higher energy leads to higher self discipline.

So what are some of the ways to increase energy levels?

1 - The biggest problem with low energy is the time wasting activities that can go along with low energy.  Things like watching TV, video games, idle surfing etc.  These activities take little energy but they can take valuable time from the sleep that would help rejuvenate energy levels.  So just sleep rather than waste time.

2 - Health is tied to energy levels.  The obvious is eating and exercise.  We all know how to live healthy.  We know what we should eat and drink and what we should not.  We also know that we should exercise.  Again, this can be tied to a cycle.  Low energy so rather than prepare healthy food, eating easy fast "bad" food.  So just break the cycle.

3 - Eat.  Yes, low energy can be tied to low blood sugar levels.  Eat a healthy snack to improve energy.

4 - Take a break.  A 5-10 minute walk is a perfect break.  We tend to lose our productive focus if we take no breaks.  A break can actually improve productivity, energy and focus.

5 - Breath.  A few deep breaths can increase energy in less than a minute.

6 - Practice good posture.  Simply sitting up straight can increase energy. 

7 - Meditation can be a great way to increase energy.  Of course if you are too tired, it might lead to sleep (which might also be a good thing).  Meditation may seem like a waste of time but the increase in energy can pay dividends that more than make up the time.

8 - Just move.  This can be a bit like a break.  Simply standing, walking 20 steps, stretching, doing some exercises all increase energy.  

Guilt can reduce energy.  Self discipline, energy and guilt at tied together for most people.  Giving yourself permission to not be perfectly disciplined all the time can reduce guilt and increase energy.
Track your energy and compare it to your self discipline level and you will find there is a link.  Work on energy levels to improve self discipline.

And of course some grandkid pics for the heart.  I should have added "doing things of the heart add energy".  Now, do I need to worry they are not doing energy enhancing activities?