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5 Ways to Gain Focus and Increase Productivity

July 15, 2013

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We all have our days (or months) when our inboxes and to do lists are overflowing and we can’t even begin to focus. Here are some of our practices that help to keep us on track.

1. Clear out the clutter.
Your head always seems more clear when your workspace is neat and orderly. It doesn’t matter if you’re using digital or manila folders, create a standard folder setup and stick with it so files are easy to find. The same goes for your email – sort into folders, archive or delete. Think of your inbox as your to do list; leave only the emails that are awaiting response. When your inbox goes from sixty emails to six, you’ll find it much easier to focus on those important ones.

2. Write it down.
Whether you use Evernote or good old pen and paper, getting all of your thoughts down can be the best way to get some mental clarity. Take fifteen minutes for a quick brainstorming session. It doesn’t have to be organized or even in complete thoughts – just get it out. You can go back to edit and organize later. This jumble of thoughts can provide a great starting point for your list of weekly goals or that proposal you need write.

3. Tackle the big guys first.
Wondering why you can never fit everything into your day? Why big projects get pushed to the back burner? Schedule your most important work first thing in the morning when you have the most focus and energy. Knock out the big stuff first, and then you will find that the small tasks can be more easily fit into your daily lineup.

4. Mark your calendar.
Set aside a chunk of time devoted to one specific task, and mark it on your calendar as you would a meeting. Be clear about what you want to accomplish in that time frame; otherwise it’s easy to get side-tracked. And most importantly, minimize distractions; don’t forget to turn off your phone and email (and social media).

5. Set a clear goal.
There must be an end in sight. Establish a completion date or final stage for your project (if there is not one already) and stick with it. It’s easy to get caught up tweaking and perfecting every little detail when it’s not necessary. This is not to say you should sacrifice on quality, but get to a stopping point and hit save. There will always be changes, but you can save those for round two (or three or four).

While these are not quick fixes, the trick is to make them a habit in your day to day. Stick with them, and you’ll see results in no time.

 

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