One of the key reason of low productivity are the distractions triggered inside our mind. These internal distractions are quite natural because there is too much going on in our lives all the time. Here is a simple example of the internal distraction I am talking about.
Imagine, you are working on an important project report that needs to finished today. Suddenly you thought about the promise made to your wife for planning that long pending vacation. You did not think of it consciously, but your mind popped it up – out of nowhere. What now? You might start Googling or call your travel agent. Or you might just try to forget it so that you can focus back to your current task. Either ways, your mind got distracted impacting your productivity right away. This brings us to the first principle of Productivity.
The Principle: A clear mind is source of powerful actions
The Practice: Clearing your mind like an empty container
Take at least 2-3 hours off from your day, preferably on a weekend so that you are least distracted. Tell everyone that you are not available during this period. Take a compact spiral notebook or some blank sheets of paper and start writing down all “stuff” that needs to happen in your life. This is not your traditional “to-do” list. The “stuff” can be a variety of things that needs to done either by you or by others. It should have happened in past or it needs to happen in the next few minutes or in distant future.
Here are a few pointers where your “stuff” can come from:
- Official tasks such as documenting, organizing papers, storing references
- New hobby idea or a business idea you need to work upon
- Calling list – Includes calling to family members, office, interview, appointment or socializing
- Planning for that trip, vacation or holidays
- Sorting out issues with someone or taking a decision on something
- Stuff related to finance, banking, investment or mortgage
- Commitments made to yourself
- Commitments made to others
- Unfinished tasks or projects
- Shopping or selling something
- Home or office improvement work
- Following up with someone on something
Out of these items, chances are that you might find some tasks that are really urgent. Do them on the very same day or the very next hour once you are done writing your stuff. In the next 24 hours, make it a conscious habit to write all your stuff on a piece of paper. The moment you think about something that needs to be done, write it down. Don’t do it without writing it down first. Initially, you might find it a bit unnatural but as soon as you start doing it, you will find yourself much more free and focussed.
Keep practicing until you make it an integral part of your daily life, like brushing your teeth. If you stop doing it for a couple of days, don’t beat yourself, start fresh and keep going. Use one single place to collect all your stuff so that you can come back and reference it later.
We are building a solid foundation for amazing productivity and creativity…keep it up!
Once you have collected everything in your physical and psychological world that is pulling your attention, it’s time to process and organize it. Head over to the Productivity Practice of Staying Organized.