Let’s face it, young Women are dominating the professional field as men turn to trades and are drawn out of the office for more hands on jobs. As a young professional, i’m part of this group, and while I love the wardrobe, fast pace of an office, deadlines, and after work drinks surrounded by other professionals, there can be a discrepancy with ‘balance’. The work-play-relax balance. So, I’ve done some research into off-beat tips from some of the worlds elite entrepreneurs on how they made it, and made it work. Not just work, but work for them.
The result was unanimous.
Multitasking is a problem. I was a quick skeptic to this, I can usually be found flicking between 4 files on my mac with 9 tabs open on safari, while referencing instagram blogs and scouring the pages of vogue. That’s just the foundation. On top of this are the emails, answering phone calls (or screening) and ensuring I always have a tea on hand. Last week something happened. I had a MTO, a Multi Tasking Meltdown. I forgot all my passwords, inappropriately lost my head that someone in the office hadn’t replaced the tea, and couldn’t remember if ‘i’ came before ‘e’. Effectively, my brain shut down. According to David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, multitasking is an important skill to possess, however has its downsides. “It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ.. We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t or spell things wrong.”
Rock clarifies that in the quest for ‘Great job!’ from the boss, ultimately the goal is not for constant focus, but for short periods of distraction-free time, adding that twenty minutes of deep focus could be “transformative”.
Here are the top tips for creating and maintaining distraction-free focus;
- Do creative work first, leave the mundane tasks to the afternoon or when your brain needs some down time, like sorting emails, copying text or organising schedules.
- Create a check list to keep you on track and monitor your productivity.
- Plan your time: early in the morning or late at night is when most of us have the most brain activity and feel most inspired to get work done. Make this time count. Put your phone aside, go by your check list and avoid distractions. If another idea or job pops into your head while performing another task, have a piece of paper nearby where you can write these things down. When you’ve finished your immediate to do list, have a look at the tasks you thought of and decide if they’re really important.
- The mind is a muscle, train it to be focused. While we believe multitasking means we’re able to perform many tasks at once, what we’re effectively doing is allowing the mind to roam between tasks and loose focus. When the mind wanders to another task, thought or weekend plan, pull it back into focus. The mind can be conditioned to focus.
- EAT. Don’t forget to fuel your body and your mind. Plenty of leafy greens, nuts and protein will stop your mind from getting fuzzy. Hydrate with water, not caffeine.
- Plan your day the night before. Instead of wasting your productivity hours in the morning on planning what you need to do, have your top three tasks ready to go.
- Don’t be lazy in the morning. Get out of bed, move your body -even if it’s a quick stretch, and start the day.
- Get out of the office; go for a walk, eat lunch in the park, catch up with a friend somewhere other than the office space. This will help oxygenate your body, giving you a fresh lease for the afternoon. The day will seem shorter as you feel fresh and ready to tackle more work.
- Meditate. 15 minutes of meditation a day is said to improve mental clarity and mind control. If you’re training your mind to re-focus, this is an exercise for you.
- Switch off technology. Do you want to get more done in the day? Rock recommends staying offline until 10am and minimising the time spent watching tv- even at home. This time could be spent getting in an extra workout, reading or planning the next day.
- Challenge yourself to get the most out of your day. Ask yourself, “What else can I do?”
This guide wouldn’t be complete without some technical support, check out these apps:
- Lift: Set your goals, track and monitor and get inspired. It works as a mini social media platform with other Lift users able to encourage you to keep your goals. It’s Free
- Workflowy: This is a mobile post-it facility and functions the same way your brain does with links and sub-links to ideas that feeds into bigger overall tasks or jobs. It’s Free