How do you stay focused and hold yourself accountable to doing the stuff you want to do (without getting distracted)?
You can watch the video here.
Over the course of the last year or so, I have been going through a process of becoming more aware of my gaps in this area and been taking some really positive steps to overcome some of the limitations I was experiencing around being organised, time management and getting stuff done.
First up, after identifying my complete lack of any structure with regards to being organised (my personality is a fly by the seat of your pants kinda personality – which has it’s strengths in certain areas, but definitely not in achieving mid to long term goals) I started a new affirmation (I love affirmations, they are life changing if you let them be) and I wrote it on a post in note and stuck it up on the wall right next to my desk. This affirmation read:
I am organised
(As a side note, I also identified that this lack of organisation etc was having a significant impact on my finances as well, so I created another post it note with the exact same 4 lines and added “with my finances” at the bottom…how we do one thing is how we do everything :-)… and this led to me reading both The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape and Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and setting up both of these financial systems in my life and for my business. Both of these systems have revolutionised my approach to money, which is still a work in progress, but definitely heading in the right direction).
Next, it was really highlighted as I was trying to write The Happiness Hunter’s Guide to Meditation that I was really struggling to find/make/create the time to write (even though in reality I had plenty of time). At the Fairfield walk one Thursday last year, Jodie introduced me to a time management system called “Productive Flourishing” which was developed by Charlie Gilkey, a former US marine (who is also a PhD candidate in philosophy) who managed logistics to the front line in war zones – basically he had to manage complex projects that peoples lives depended on under a lot of pressure and there was no margin for error.
I loved this concept. Productive Flourishing basically asks us to set aside carefully considered chunks of time for appropriate tasks, dividing our time into four different types of blocks – and as the first step, identifying when we are at our best for each type of block and then putting them in our schedule at a time when we are going to be operating at our best to achieve them.
Once you have determined where those blocks of time sit in your schedule, you then allocate specific tasks to the appropriate block. Rather than the traditional way we do, is mapping tasks straight to our calendar, if we schedule them at all.
What I discovered in writing the book, was that if I did not write first thing in the morning, then it was increasingly unlikely I would write it later in the day. I switched around my morning exercise and wrote at that time instead, and walked later in the day, as the morning is by far the best time (for me) for that kind of focused activity like writing and I knew that I could walk at any time in the day – even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE walking first thing in the day.
The four blocks are:
FOCUS blocks are 90 – 120 minute blocks of time when you are particulalry creative, inspired and able to do high-level work that requires focus
ADMIN blocks are smaller 30 – 60 minutes chunks of lower energy time when you’re not up to heavy lifting but can put some routine stuff behind you
SOCIAL blocks are 90 – 120 minute periods when you’re primed and in the right space to meet enthusiastically and energetically with other people
RECOVERY blocks are variable lengths of time for exercise, meditation and self care.
So anyway, fast forward to now. I listened to a podcast with Charlie yesterday and it was good to really reflect on how far I had come with this, but also to recognise that even though I have implemented the system (and also have implemented some other much improved planning and action oriented processes) I’M STILL GETTING DISTRACTED.
What he mentioned which I found fascinating is that most of us can achieve our outcomes when under pressure (for example with a deadline, delivering for a client or in a war zone), but a lot of us struggle without that external pressure required to complete a task. I’m certainly finding this and I’m trying to find the way to really get myself 100% focused on the task at hand in the time that has been allocated when the only pressure to achieve it needs to come from me.
Interestingly, Charlie also talks about a thing called invisible activities – things we don’t account for and maybe even aren’t aware that we are doing (things like responding to your kids, going to the bathroom or doing a load of washing) and while I think this has some small part to play in the distraction as I work from home, it still doesn’t fully account for the fact that I am not being as self-disciplined as I need and want to be to achieve my goals.
We all know that self-discipline is self love and discipline is what gives us real freedom. I really, really want to become more self disciplined in this area.
How do you keep yourself focused to the task you said you were going to do and not get distracted? I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Fiona Redding is the founder of The Happiness Hunter, co-host of #BusinessAddicts The Podcast and author of The Happiness Hunter’s Guide to Meditation.
Based on leading research, metaphysical principles and her own real life learnings and experiences, The Happiness Hunter teaches and empowers people how to change their lives with the strategies, tools and mindset shifts required to live an abundant, successful and healthy life, full of passion, joy and meaning, and free of stress and anxiety.
Our services include life coaching and healing services, workshops, retreats, keynote presentations and corporate wellbeing programs with a focus on life integration instead of work life balance.
The Happiness Hunter also organises free community walks and weekly classes throughout Australia in an effort to increase happiness & wellbeing through human connection, nature and exercise, which is supported by a leadership network.