Recently, I’ve been using a practice I call the “Focus 30” to dramatically increase my focus, productivity, responsiveness, and success. It is the single most important practice I’ve adopted in the past year and you must know about it!
The basic premise of the practice is not at all new. In fact, it’s been around thousands of years in the form of Buddhist-inspired mindfulness.
As I wrote about in the 4th lesson of my Boost Your Performance foundational course (first published in 2013), the strategy of doing just one thing at a time “is the antithesis of multi-tasking and goes against every technological development in our modern way of living and working.”
Yet, this simple practice results in you being “much more productive and effective and successful in your endeavors,” along with feeling “less scattered, more centered and calm, more joyful, and reconnected with your purpose and your passions.” Wow, that’s one powerful practice!
In 2014, when I discovered the blog Zen Habits, written by Leo Babauta, I became a huge fan of his complementary thinking and approach. At the time I also purchased his e-book Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction, which offers numerous behavioral technologies and suggestions on apps & software programs that can be used to help focus and be more productive amidst the myriad distractions in our modern work world.
More recently, I was reminded of the importance of time-bounding specific activities for better focus. If you’ve learned from me about using time blocks for creating a template schedule, you know I’m a huge fan of using blocks of time to your advantage. But, when my long-term friend and colleague Mela Stevens taught me her 30-minute approach in her DeJunking course (which I’m taking as part of the longer Quantum Coaching certification program), it radically improved my way of working on a project!
This practice, which I call the “Focus 30” practice, is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT NEW PRACTICE I’VE ADOPTED IN THE PAST YEAR. I’ve used it to clear out a kitchen junk drawer, eliminate distractions so I can truly enjoy playing with toys on the floor with my 4-year old, to finish writing pieces of my soon-to-be-released new book, type-up notes from my 1:1 client retreat days, write and send off a client proposal, blow through a stack of mail and bills, update financial information for my accountant, and much much more.
TANGIBLE, TIME-SAVING, STRESS-RELIEVING BENEFITS
I am not in any way exaggerating when I tell you that this “Focus 30” practice has:
- Increased my mental focus up to 400%
- Boosted my same-day productivity up to 1000%
- Improved my turn-around time on client deliverables up to 200%
- Eliminated 3-4 hours of less efficient distracted time each week
- Reduced my list of “loose ends” (items I’ve not yet finished) by 25%
- Improved my satisfaction with work activities
- Reduced my stress level
- Boosted my self-confidence
- Solidified the boundaries I’ve created between work and the rest of my life
- Supported me in feeling more centered and calm
And more! I’ve been sharing this practice with some of my private coaching clients and they too have been seeing incredible results.
The “FOCUS 30” Practice
Set aside a block of 30 minutes of time to improve your focus, increase your productivity, save time, and increase your satisfaction.
The How – Follow these steps for greatest success.
- Identify what you will focus on for 30 minutes. If it is a larger project that you know will take more than 30 minutes, no problem: identify the first slice (or even sliver) of the piece of the project you will focus on for 30 minutes.
- Decide when you will begin your 30 minute period of time and block it in your calendar.
- If you know others may want to contact you during that time, let them know you will not be available no matter what until after the 30 minute period is complete.
- When your time period begins, turn off all electronic distractions. Turn your smart phone and tablet to “airplane mode.” Turn OFF or completely close your computer’s email program. Shut down any websites or social media that will send you alerts. Unplug your landline phone, if you have one. Put a sign on the door that you do not want to be disturbed by any interruptions, deliveries, etc. In essence, set yourself up for success by temporarily (it’s only 30 minutes!) creating a fortress of solitude for yourself.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Begin your work.
- No matter what unrelated ideas or thoughts or next steps or anything occur to you, ignore them and come back to the task at hand. Again, even if you think of the most brilliant idea that is going to make you billions, you ignore it, put it away, and come back to Focus 30 activity. Whatever it is, it can wait 30 minutes.
- When the 30 minutes is complete, acknowledge and celebrate what you’ve accomplished –even if you are not done.
- Then, make an important decision. Will you:
- Dive into another Focus period of time to continue? If yes, for how long? Another 30 minutes? Or, just 10? Or 20?
- Stop for now. If you stop after 30 minutes, document what (if any) next steps you have and when you will move them forward.
- CELEBRATE! You’ve just experienced a “Focus 30” breakthrough! Way to go!
If you feel you would be more likely to utilize this practice by committing to having a 1:1 call with me, send me an email with the subject line “Teach me the Focus 30 practice” and we’ll set-up a free 15-minute call. Think of this call as your own personal “Focus 15”!
Here’s to you getting more out of each minute of the work day so you can better enjoy the rest of your life!