Finding focus may be the key to a more productive life – a theme underscored in several articles this week. Here are five different takes on the topic, all offering excellent advice.
Zenhabits is not a typical business blog; however, with 250,000 subscribers, it is one of the most successful blogs in the world. I was intrigued by the title of a recent post, “A Primer on Full-Screen Living.” Blogger Leo Babauta writes eloquently, taking the notion of working on a computer in full-screen mode (where only one program or document completely fills the screen) and applying that practice to daily life (where only one task completely fills the moment).
If you follow me on Twitter (@bzhenry), you know that I’ve made content curation in organizational communication a hobby. This blog post highlights the best of what I’ve read in recent weeks.
Mental energy is a limited commodity, according to Robert C. Pozen. In “Boring Is Productive,” on the HBR Blog Network, he looks at various ways successful people limit unimportant decisions in their day (e.g., what to eat for breakfast, what to wear) in order to save mental energy needed for more important choices. Research backs the efficacy of this practice. Make a routine for the more mundane aspects of your life, and you’ll have more mental energy when you truly need it.
David Rock expands on the idea that conscious thought is a finite resource, in “Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work,” also on the HBR Blog Network. Among several interesting suggestions he makes is practicing “four-hour work flow” – giving yourself a four-hour uninterrupted time slot where you focus on something you’ve identified as a priority. As difficult as it may be to find those four hours, my own experience supports this conclusion.
Many of these authors agree that in addition to finding focus, identifying priorities is also a critical component to productivity. In “Best Advice I Ever Got: Antonio Neves” on the Inc. blog, Neves, the founder and CEO of Thinqaction, notes that “you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.” Don’t let an underlying fear of “missing out” keep you from focusing on priorities, he warns.
Finally, what can we do to achieve greater focus – to be more productive? Jason Womack, in an interview with John McDermott, suggests that building a supportive “ecosystem” will help. In “Find Your Productivity Hotspot,” he suggests creating a “distraction-free zone” in which to work.
Unrelated, but worth the time
The folks at Common Craft have done it again. “Big data” is a term I’ve seen a lot recently, but didn’t really know what it meant. Common Craft claims that its product is “explanation,” and they are some of the best explainers in the business. Here is their take on “Big Data.”