Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are You Focused?

I have found that a get distracted easily especially if I am doing something that I do not want to be doing.  It is inevitable that at some point we will have to to take on the obligation of doing something that we don't like doing.  I have developed some very effective systems that have helped me focus on the thing I don't want to do so that it is done and I can move on to the things I want to do.

The first trick I have learned is that if I listen to music alone that can be a distraction all its own.  I've found that if I listen to music that has a consistent beat and words that I don't try to listen to this helps. I also play a binaural beats track (typically 40hz because this stimulates the alpha brain wave) low in the background of the music.

The second trick is to schedule breaks.  This is along the same lines of a Pomodoro sprint, but you should take breaks unless you are on such a good line that it will be lost if you don't complete it.  I try to schedule a break every 30 or so minutes.  I know that many bosses are opposed to this many breaks but it will make people more efficient and keep them from burning out.

The third and probably most important trick is eating properly.  I know this sounds strange but having good food and the right kind is crucial to having that energy and focus that you are looking for.  The key is things that your can break down quickly, fruits, simple sugars, and timing them well.  If you time your meals just right you will never be hungry and will always be full of energy.

The last and most vital trick is to drink water.  You are made of water, and 80% of people are lacking the appropriate amount of water for there body type.  The best way I have heard it stated for determining the amount of water to drink is take your weight and that is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily.  I know it sounds like alot but it will change the way you feel.

I hope these tips will assist you in becoming better.  To your success.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do You Use the 80/20 Rule of Time?

Time is the most valuable commodity on the planet.  I know there are people that would argue this but time is the one thing that you cannot make more of.  You can make more money, you can make relationships better, but you cannot make time.

I have found that as I get more efficient and better with the tasks I do the more I find myself wasting time.  I waste time because I know that I can quickly finish the task that needs to be done.  I know this is not the best way to handle myself but I know that human beings look for ways to be lazy.

I have found that as I start to master a task that needs to be done, if I give myself another thing to master the time that would be wasted is now being channeled towards a better end.  I have also discovered that if I don't set boundaries for when I will stop working I will not stop and this will lead to over working.  Over working is not good either, make sure you take time to rest.

Ultimately, the sweet spot is somewhere between, over working and being lazy.  I know that some people like to oscillate between these two extremes and that can work.  The issue with that approach is that it put additional stress on your body.  Each person has there own paradigm, so you will find what works for you.

I prefer to use the Vilfredo Pareto principle of 80/20.  The the 20% off of the lazy and 20% off of the over working we are left with the 60% that is in the middle. and this oscillation will serve much better in that we will never be near the point of collapse or the point of stagnation.

Getting started after a break is easier and break that is is easier.  This again is what I have found to be my sweet spot.  Please comment if this is the same sweet spot you use or if you have another method.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do You Have a System?

I know that in my life, there would be no way that I could handle a large majority of the things that I do
without the systems that have been created to handle them.  I have systems to handle projects, tasks, timing of these and triage of new tasks as they come up.

Having these systems provides several advantages to trying to track them myself.

  1. Tracking
  2. Less Stress
  3. Share Resources
  4. Accomplishment

First, it allows me to track everything that I have on my plate and ensures I will not drop anything I have committed to.  I know whether I can take on any additional tasks because I know what my current work load is.  If I have the time and resources I will take on more, if not then I can say no with confidence.

Second, these systems reduce my stress, because I am not relying on my memory to remember all tasks.  Having to remember everything you have to do in a day can be stressful.  That may be the reason why so many people don't plan more than a few weeks ahead for anything in their life.  Putting everything down on paper or digital paper will make you less stressed because you will know consciously and subconsciously that the information will not be lost.

Third, it allows me to share and distribute the tasks that I have as part of a project to other stakeholders.  If I have everything about a project in my own mind it makes collaboration with your team very difficult.  This is also very helpful in cases where you are getting too many things on your plate and need help.  This increases communication and transparency within your team. Asking someone to complete a task is easy if all the information is accessible.

Finally, the use of systems allows me to look back at all I have accomplished at the end of the day, week or month.  Sometimes after a very crazy week I feel like I have not made any progress towards the goals that I have set.  At these time I can look back on the long list of things that i have completed, and lets me not be as hard on myself.

I also want to point out that I use these systems in both my professional and personal life.  Both have benefited greatly from the use of these systems.  Conversations at the dinner table are no longer about planning for the next day, because it is all in systems and the decisions are made prior to arriving at home.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Take A Learning Day

I have found that to be successful in any venture we have to have a plan to follow.  All to often after the newness and fun part of the plan wares off I find myself being tempted by other things that are more exciting
than the plan I am current following.  These are other plans that would more than likely end in the same place as the original plan.  I like to refer to these distractions from the selected path as "shinnies".

The issue is that if these "shinnies" are perused they will detract from the goal that you are trying to achieve.  May that be getting out of debt, organizing your house, completing a project at work or training to run a marathon.  The continuous little steps are what take you to your goal; keep taking those steps.

This doesn't negate the fact that many people want to learn more about things that are unfamiliar to them.  I personally try to learn at least 1 new thing that I know absolutely nothing about each year.  The best way I have found of managing this time and keeping it from taking you off course for an extended period is to integrate learning days into your routine.

These days can be used to learn about a new hobby you are interested in, learn how to use the new appliance/software/device that you have purchased recently and haven't learned it well.  This can be any number of loops that you have deferred or anything in the "Someday/Maybe" Loop.  I have also added a label "Learning Day" in Asana to make it easier to identify.

Using this method has helped me in a number of ways.  One, it allows me to get distracted, which is inevitable when you have to do things that are not fun, route that to a place that I know will be reviewed on a regular basis and get back to the boring things that need to be done.

I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.