Productivity and GTD

Lack of Focus is Killing Your Productivity

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
Blog productivity

Curiously, when we realize that our personal productivity is not as good as we would like, the first thing we do is looking for new systems, methods and applications that help us to get better organized. Instinctively, we dodge the issue: “If I’m not productive enough is because the tools I use don’t fit well with me.”

But personal productivity is a matter of habits and that means that, in this movie, the main character is you. Even with adequate organizational habits and using the tools you love, there will always be times when you will not be particularly productive. It can be specific times along the day, or even a sequence of several days.

In these cases the problem usually has to do with focus. Because, let’s be clear, keeping your focus on the task you are performing is essential to cross it off in your to-do list. In fact, it is infinitely more important than the organizational methodology you use, the software on which you lean, or the countless productive tricks you employ throughout the day to save some time.

In the end, like it or not, it is all about getting things done. It is difficult to always perform to the best—in any discipline—, but if you can manage your attention well, returning to the path of productivity after a little detour will be a breeze.

The first thing you need to know is that your attention, your ability to stay focused on an intellectual or creative work, is a scarce resource that is exhausted. So, after a long period of concentration you need a shorter period doing unfocused activities, that is, a period in which you give rest to that resource so its initial capacity can be recovered (as if it were the battery of a mobile that needs to be recharged).

You know to what level is your attention span. When it runs out, instead of continuing to work (which can be very frustrating), you should try to recover it by disconnecting: Take a break, take a nap, take a long walk, have a conversation with someone, relax listening to music or devote yourself to meditate.

Lack of sleep affects your stress level and productivity. Sleeping well is essential to have a productive day. When you sleep your attention span is recharged. With a good rest, it will get at maximum load; that’s why it is recommended to do the tasks that require greater concentration at the beginning of the day. Also think that if your focus reserve is full and you do not use it, it will be gradually lost, wasted.

If you like coffee, a moderate consumption at certain times of day can increase your focus and therefore your productivity. This is a personal thing on which opinions may differ, but some studies suggest that the effects of caffeine can boost your productivity.

Personally, I find that physical exercise is probably the best way to eliminate stress and maintain a high concentration level. There are also studies that show a correlation between physical exercise and productivity.

According to Daniel Goleman, the link between attention and excellence is behind almost all our achievements. Your attention span is a great asset and a skill that you should develop to the fullest, not only to be more productive, but to make things better, reach your goals and maintain healthy relationships.

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