I’ve always considered myself as being quite organised, self-motivated and productive.
But lately, and now that I’m spending a lot more time at home, I’ve noticed that I easily get distracted and carried away by the smallest, unimportant things.
I could be heading to the coffee machine to switch it on, and before I even get there, I end up doing all these little things in the kitchen, and it’s another 15 minutes before I actually put the machine on!
And there I am, asking myself why I’ve done all these things that didn’t need to be done now, and I’ve not even had my coffee yet.
To help me understand that not all the things on my daily to-do list are created equal, I picked up a copy of The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta, and with that, a few useful tips along the way.
Get your priorities straight
First things first, you need to figure your priorities out. Do it daily if you have to, and try and look at your life from the outside. Ask yourself what things are so important that have the power to slowly change your life and whether they match up with your long-term goals. Think about what motivates you, what you love, what makes you thrive and what you really need and desire.
Focus on the essential
Once you know what your priorities are, are you good at concentrating on what’s really important? Or do you throw yourself into a to-do list like I do, just to realise that some things could actually wait? If you consciously try and tackle less things in a day, you will take care of what’s truly important. You’ll finish what you’re doing more quickly and successfully, and go into the next day with a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Make decisions and be clear about them
If you limit yourself you can focus your energy on the important things in life. You can then stop wasting time and energy on things that aren’t really worth it. By setting clear limits and boundaries and saying no to unnecessary things that don’t fit with your priorities, you free yourself up more.
If you want to change your life, change your habits
I wholeheartedly stand by this. You can start changing small things about yourself and your routine that over time will change your life!
According to Leo Babauta, forming and developing new habits works best when you:
- Limit yourself to working on one habit at a time;
- Tell others about it, so they can support you and help you hold yourself accountable;
- Are consistent;
- Set yourself achievable goals – make them small and simple enough. You’ll notice that the smaller you start, the greater your prospect of success will be;
- Force yourself to track your habits every day to reduce the chance of forgetting.
Focus on one success at the time – break things down in goals, sub-goals, projects and tasks
To achieve goals you need energy, focus and motivation. If you have a big goal, you should put all your energy into it. And to do that, you should break it down into sub-goals that can be achieved in shorter periods of time.
To achieve your sub-goals, you need to identify mini projects and break those down even more into tasks. Remember that tasks are short – ideally they should be achieved in about 30 minutes or less.
Stay focused, never work on too many projects at once (choose no more than 3), and tackle the most important ones first.
Live in the now and concentrate fully on every task
Multitasking and constant interruptions make you inefficient. Don’t I know this?! The best way to fully concentrate is to stay in the now, rather than thinking constantly about the past or future.
Start every day with your most important tasks
Define your most important tasks every morning and tackle those first. Regardless of what happens during the day, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals, just for having identified and tackled the essential tasks first.
Boost your efficiency by minimising the time you spend on emails.
Do you spend too much time reading and writing emails? Or in my case, on social media?? If you want to be more productive, Leo Babauta advises to minimise the time you spend on emails. For example, you can decide to only read them twice a day and not when you’re working productively. When I’m writing I never stop to check emails!
When you do check them delete irrelevant messages immediately, and once you’ve read an email and replied or done what you needed to do, delete it. (I’d say archive it?) If it’s something you need to come back to and do later, make a note on your to-do list.
Essentially, what Leo Babauta is telling us is that less is more. By focusing on the essential, we achieve our goals with less effort and give ourselves the flexibility we need to lead a fulfilled life.
What about you? Do you manage to stay focused on the right projects and tasks or are you easily distracted?