How do I: reset focus

focus on target

 

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Focus is important when you are trying to get something done. We can easily get distracted. How do we maintain focus? How do we reset our focus on target once we lose it?

I find my focus and my happiness are closely linked because I track these nightly as an exercise in noting and journaling. If you have smart goals and you are goal-oriented, you might notice the same. If you are not focused on the tasks that need to be accomplished toward your goals, it almost hurts.

Indistractable author Nir Eyal wrote that time management is closely tied to energy management (having the energy when we need to do something) as well as pain management (when we do things we need to even though we don’t want to).

So how do we reset our focus from dis-traction back to focused traction? Here are many of the things I do to reset my focus and regain focus needed:

Manage your time

To manage your time, schedule your time with one online calendar that follows you wherever you go. Not you going to your calendar to check what is on it. On your mobile phone is ideal. I happen to use Google Calendar that seamlessly appears on my laptop and phone. Noting in your calendar what you need to be doing when and for how long is a big help. Having it all online makes it accessible and flexible as things change so you and your calendar can adapt quickly to any change. If I need to do something later, I move it as needed.

Having one online calendar, just one, is key. I only have one set of 24 hours per day to manage, not several sets of 24 hours.

Be specific when noting what needs to be done in your online calendar. “Write book” is not specific enough, however “draft TOC for new book on [topic XYZ]” between 8am and 9am on Tuesday” work better as a doable smart task.

Breakdown a large project or tasks into a series of smaller more manageable tasks that are actually doable in a small time frame like an hour.

Schedule your own time or get your time scheduled for other people’s activities.

Take breaks

Some companies have scheduled hourly stretching breaks that help minimize aches, pains and workforce injuries. Even if you are stationed at a desk for hours, stretching and doing a few floor exercises each hour can help your mind and body.

Taking a walk outside is very beneficial to reset the mind in any weather provided you are dressed and prepared for it. Walking meetings are good as long as the slowest person is leading upfront to set the pace of the walk.

Exercise

30-minutes of walking, biking, or swimming are great resets and gets the endorphins flowing. I don’t run, but you can if wish. I walk faster than most people jog. This keeps my heart rate lower, endurance higher, and furthers distance.

I will walk on the beach, at a wildlife refuge or my neighborhood for 15-30 minutes one direction (with a timer on to have me turn around and return when it rings). I will walk while listening to a podcast I have not heard before like Distributed, Tim Ferriss Show, Masters of Scale,  or an audiobook in one ear while still being able to hear the ocean waves in the other ear is extremely stimulating for ideas.

Note taking

Note-taking of those ideas on a mobile phone is the easiest so the notes are already in electronic form for digital repurposing, even if I email myself the notes. I loathe paper and avoid it like… a virus. Regardless of our age, ideas are fleeting, so capture ideas when they are at the top of your mind before the idea clutters your mind or even worse, you lose that idea. Email links or ideas with a note of context to a friend that would find them helpful and relevant to them. Even if the note is for your own consumption, email it to yourself with some context that you can lookup and find again in the future using some keywords. Getting content out of your head will lighten the load on your mind so you have less burden on your memory and fewer nagging thoughts. ABC = Always Be Capturing

Declutter your environment

If you become really frustrated and unfocused, take a look at your work environment or living space on what needs to be decluttered. We all have a pile of things to clean up  and /or declutter somewhere somehow. Refocus your energy to cleaning up and decluttering that space wherever it is. Get it done. Check it off your list.

Eat and drink well

Notice that eating well and drinking enough water are very key to having the energy needed for focused work. Headaches go away when properly hydrated. If you get a headache, try rehydrating before medicating the issue.

You will notice about an hour afterward if you did not eat or drink well. Note what you ate and/or drank so you can track your reactions to it in your online calendar.

Mediate

Occasionally, I will mediate using the Headspace app for 10 minutes. The app has options to mindfully work on your focus.

Reward yourself

Once you refocus and get things done, reward yourself. I schedule an on-demand film to watch if I accomplish what I wanted done that day. If I did not get things done, I reschedule the reward to later when I believe it will be done and schedule something else that needs doing that night. Some serve themselves a small snack to replenish the energy they need to do the next thing on their calendar.

Breathe

If all the above are not options for you, try box breathing which can be done to feel the effects about one minute, but longer works even better. It calms you, purposely slows the breath, and that helps reset the brain. Simply breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath in for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold no breath for 4 seconds, and repeat. Easy and works anywhere, for any situation in 16-second cycles. We take our breathe for granted until it is compromised and then it is too late.

How do you reset your focus?

Questions?

Tools I Use: Objectives and Key Results

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What is an OKR?

Why use Objectives and Key Results (OKR)?

Why not just use KPIs or just keep using roadmaps?

Roadmaps are floating and fluid, but do not necessarily address objectives nor key results aside from what might get done once they start. Aside from feature building, what is the point of all this work? Welcome to the world of OKRs.

I digested the audiobook titled Radical Focus about OKRs which was a great 3.5 hour primer in the use of them in a startup.

Here are a few more resources on OKRs:

Roadmap Alternative FAQ

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/trust-engineers

When Performance Is Measured By Results

Do you use OKRs? Why or why not?

Questions?

Tools I Use: digital mind mapping

Ryan Holiday explains “The Notecard System: The Key For Remembering, Organizing And Using Everything You Read.”

This system may work in the physical world (I respect that if you need everything to be physical for some reason).  I see all this possible as a digital mind map to minimize duplication (it is just a link or lines drawn to the same dot), less rewriting, simpler organization that travels with you anywhere and easier categorization for those comfortable using digital tools.

I find it interesting to watch people squirm while I explain how I do this using digital tools as they still have a reluctance (resistance) in giving up their legacy methods using paper due to their own comfort zones. If they don’t want to change and get out of their own (way) comfort zone, it is their own problem to solve.

I prefer tools and information to follow me anywhere/anytime rather than going to where it is all physically located in order to review/iterate it. Especially since new ideas are fleeting, need to be captured (vs. vanish with memory) and get linked to other ideas/needs at some point.

Yes, one of the tools I use is digital mind mapping. Not on a paper, but rather fully editable ideas. I find it a good tool for forming and dissecting ideas. Before creating an outline for a book, I start with a mind map. As I continue existing projects, I mind map them.

Mind mapping helps create dots (ideas) and connect those dots (drawing lines/relations) such as:

  1. keywords/keyphrases
  2. related articles (links)
  3. related images (links to drawings, photos, infographics whether they are mine in Google Drive or from the internet)

Then, it becomes clearer to see what gaps are there and which gaps you want to fill.

Once you are comfortable with scope (self-imposed limits) of ideas you want to cover (and what you don’t want to cover), it is easier to form an outline for writing a book.

I also use mind mapping to cover who and what topics I have covered with my podcast interviews and what I want to do in the future.

Here is a list of mind mapping tools you can use (free or paid). I happen to use Mind Meister.

And that is how I use mind mapping. How do you use mind mapping?

Need help with tools like this for your business?

Questions?

 

Tools I Use: Fiverr and Upwork

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

When I need creative or design work done such as book covers or logos, I rely on Fiverr.

When I need technical work done such as podcast editing or copyediting, I rely on Upwork.

I have used these services for a few years now because they provide great value and great results.

The quality of the results is based on the individuals you find and task.

Both resources have a lot of talented people you can find with reviews, ratings, and skills you are looking for. I often filter to the most experienced people in their field who are very actively doing their craft really well.

The rates are very reasonable and you can even pay per task completed.

Keep in mind the remote workers need some context to complete the task you assign to them. Most will iterate the work they produce if you present feedback on what needs enhancement and how.

Have you tried Fiverr or Upwork?  If so, how did you like it?

Questions?

Tools I Use: Text to Speech

text to speech

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Previously, I wrote about dictation and transcription services I use for speech-to-text.

Now imagine getting anything on your computer read back to you.

There is a little-known tool available on most computers called text to speech.

Why do I use this little-known tool meant for accessibility? I am not illiterate nor blind, but I do use this often because my ears are available more than my eyes are.

This is the same reason I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Ears can take constant input. Eyes are needed for many things to see around you, guide you and also read.

If I need to “read” an online article, email or document (like an ‘exciting’ contract), this will read aloud all text as-is. Your computer may have multiple voices to choose from to read this text Verbatim.

  1. Find ‘text to speech’ in your system preferences.
  2. Select a voice you want to read the text and the rate of speed for the machine to read it to you.
  3. Memorize the hot keys to hit to activate this function
  4. Select some text on your internet browser or within a document.
  5. Hit the hot keys.

It will read just about any text to you so you don’t miss it.

Yes, you can control the rate of how fast or slow you want text read to you.

I use this text to speech to do the first passes of editing and proofreading of my eBooks.

Audio is faster than typing or reading (I speak fast too). This is the same reason why I recently adopted and use an Amazon Echo Dot. I can ask Alexa any of its 15,000+ different ‘skills’ which includes continuing an audio book from Audible.

Some apps call it ‘read aloud’ feature. Adobe Acrobat has this feature to read PDFs back to you as well.

Have you tried using text to speech to save yourself time?

Questions?