I used to be a serial starter-but-never finisher.
I created lots of half songs when I was playing music, always with the intention of finishing them but never quite following through.
I recently had an epiphany about why that was, and maybe it might be helpful for you to understand why perhaps you encounter the same issue.
You see, we like to be stimulated. It feels good!
Having some music lined up on our playlists, Facebook open, ready to respond to anyone who might message with an urgent message about how Kanye West is saying things people feel uncomfortable hearing or something else trivial, that’s important, right?
This satisfies a part of our brains which releases neurochemistry that makes us feel good.
The discomfort of incomplete projects can not compete with this euphoric feeling of being scattered, until, I made it REAL and took responsibility – I was the creator of this frustration!
It really got me motivated to improve, so I set about looking for ways to improve my productivity.
I looked at where the leaks existed and where my time and attention was slipping away and why I was compounding my frustrations with these time leaking ‘joys’.
Identifying Leaks and The Pomodoro technique
I used an app to look at how much time I wasted on Facebook each day.
Shocked and horrified, I realised that this time was dead, non-productive leaking and I was determined to solve it.
I downloaded ‘Facebook Feed Eradicator’ for my laptop which is an amazing chrome extension which allows us to see nothing except a quote in our news feeds. I really recommend claiming back all those hours leaking away by using this.
It was a good start but I was still hemorrhaging time and productivity.
I soon realised that our cognitive attention span is not that long just over 30 minutes at maximum capacity before requiring us to take a break.
You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique and this is what I implemented so that I can chunk my tasks into groups of Pomodoros. This blog post should take only 1 Pomodoro to complete, which is 30 minutes.
After each Pomodoro, the idea is to take a 5 minute break, to stretch and move around. Maybe get more water and then return and go back to the task at hand, being solely attentive to this one task.
That means shutting off your phone, having one tab open, eliminating all distractions etc..
It takes a little bit of practice, but when mastered, you will become a time ninja and productivity master.
How to Increase Productivity by Eliminating Distractions
Turn off ALL notifications on your phone!
Yes, all of them! These things are designed to give your amygdala a neuro hit, quit the drug and knock off all your notifications!
Develop the habit of using buffer-blocks throughout your day, a buffer block for email (maybe 1 hour, depends on your job), a block for content, a block for lead gen etc….
Whatever your industry, you know what should be blocked off and by doing this, you focus on the things that need to be done at times when they need to be done and you’ll increase productivity.
When we overlap tasks, we get sidetracked and leak time.
Download a Chrome extension called ‘Time Blocker’, thank me later!
The final piece which I mention here, which is probably the most important part, which is to plan out your week and break your tasks up and delegate them to days during the week.
I use two things for this.
One, is Google Calendar. This has become my religion basically. Over time, I have become absolutely committed to whatever I place in my Google Calendar. If I book a client, it goes into it and I commit to it. This is my proudest developed habit over the last few years.
Commit to using it, fall in love with your follow through for the commitments you make to yourself.
The second recommendation is to get this ‘Productivity Planner’ from Amazon. It costs $25 and is money well spent. It basically allows you to practice what I have mentioned above and has some really great ideas inside and creates a great organisational flow to your week.
At the end of the day, I realised that time management doesn’t really exist. What exists, is our relationship to ourselves and our commitments to the things we take on as obligations.
It has taken me years to achieve a level of mastery that I am now proud of and I am still not at level 10 but I am in a different ball park to where I used to be.
For you, why not start, (and finish too)?
PS. If you want me to help you identify your leaks, you can get in touch with me here.