There are two things that will impact how much you get done. First, there is the amount of time you spend. Obviously, you can get more done in 20 minutes than in 2. The second is how focused you are. This factor is referred to as, being in “the zone”.
When it comes to your personal productivity, the second factor is usually more important than the first. How many times have you spent 30 minutes working on a task that you didn’t really want to do and made very little progress, but when you truly decide you want to complete that task it only takes 15 minutes? This a common occurrence for most people. Often the biggest differentiator between highly productive and less productive people is their ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand.
A focused 15 minutes of work is much more productive than an unfocused 30 minutes or hour. So how do you get into “the zone” in order to make your time count? Here are a few tips:
- Don’t fight yourself. There are sometimes when you need to recognize that you aren’t going to be able to concentrate on a particular task. Often times this is an indication that you should do something else and come back to the current item when you want to work on it.
- Do tasks when they are the easiest. There are certain times of day when particular tasks are easier to accomplish. Make this work to your advantage. For example, I have a difficult time reading dense material early in the morning (because I’m distracted by the rest of the things I need to do) and late at night (because it puts me to sleep). I can concentrate best on this type of task a little before lunch and early evening.
- Recognize and minimize distractions. A kid will take two or three times as long to do their homework if the TV is on. Remove things that are distracting you from your work.
- Don’t let your mind wander to other important things. If you are trying to concentrate on a particular task and your mind keeps reminding you of a bunch of other things you need to do, you can easily accumulate a pile of things in your subconscious that are competing for your attention. You can solve this by writing down any tasks that are distracting you. This way, you can forget them until you finish the task at hand and you aren’t cluttering up your thoughts by trying to
remember everything you thought of.
- Train your brain. Practice keeping your mind focused. You can form habits in the way you allow your mind to think, simply by repeating the actions that you want to enforce