How to Be More Focused and Wildly Productive

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Have you wanted to be more focused? Do you struggle with being productive even though you're busy all day? In this article, I will share how to be more focused and wildly productive.

In the book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack tells a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. That year, they asked students, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals but were not in writing, and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals.

When they returned to these students ten years later, the 13% that had goals were earning twice as much as the 84% with no specific goals.

But the kicker is the 3% that had written goals and plans to accomplish them were making ten times more than the other 97% of their class. Ten times more.

Lesson learned. If you want to reach your goals, you need to write them down and create the actions to achieve them.

Here are a few techniques that you can incorporate to help you focus and be more productive every day.

How to be more focused

Do a daily review

Take five to ten minutes at your day's start to review your to-do list and sort things by importance.

An editorial calendar might help you stay on track with social media and your blog.

Identify your MITs

Your most important tasks or MITs get top billing on your schedule. If you look at your plan and everything seems like an MIT, you must work on sorting by deadlines and importance. We all love getting things done, but every task isn't an MIT.

Mark Twain said, “Eat the frog first.” This means doing the most complex, most challenging tasks first when your brain is fresh and everything the rest of the day will seem more manageable.

Stick to the two-minute rule.

If you find a quick task that takes less than two minutes, do it now. You don't want to overload your list with small things and overwhelm yourself.

Add it to your list and check it off when you're done. That's a great feeling and will help motivate you to keep going.

End your day with a list

Take a few minutes at the end of the day to update your list for the next day. Knowing that you'll get to them tomorrow will help you release some of your work anxiety.

If you don't write things down, chances are they won't get completed. Or you'll forget them. You'll be more efficient and effective with a list of tasks leading to achieving your goals.

Stop the glorification of busy

“Omigod, I'm so busy!” We hear this and say this over and over again daily. We need to stop glorifying overworking ourselves and our busyness.

Our two primary metrics for success are money and power, and they drive us to work more extended hours, sleep with our phones and tablets, miss important moments with our families, and impacts our health. Arianna Huffington proposes a third metric for success: thriving. When you thrive, you care for your health, get enough sleep, and do not live to work.

Stop the glorification of busy

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” Arianna Huffington

Redefine success

There’s no prize for working the most hours per week or making the most money. At the end of our lives, we’re all about the same amount of dust, so the question is how much joy you’ve brought into people’s lives and how much you have made the world a better place.

2. Avoid burnout. Burnout, stress, and depression are worldwide problems. At Arianna’s Third Metric conference in 2013, she learned that exhaustion is not only affecting Americans but also workers in Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and the rest of the world. Working harder doesn’t necessarily mean better results — in fact, it can have the exact opposite effect.

3. Nurture your well-being. Make time to take care of yourself through exercise, meditation, music, art, and family life — this isn’t selfishness; it’s good sense.

I hope these ideas help you create a better to-do list, become more focused, and get more done. So you can take time for your family and add value to your life outside your job.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron

Some books that you might enjoy:

Get Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Digital Detox: Unplug to Reclaim Your Life

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

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  1. This is a thought provoking article as I’m definitely guilty of glorifying busy! I like the idea of the 2 minute rule and also of writing a list at the end of the day

    1. Hello Susan,

      I’m glad you found a few new things to try from the article. Thank you for reading and commenting!


  2. A very interesting article. Everything can be achieved with the right strategy and of course writing it down can ease the process. I love when it says to take a few minutes to schedule your next day, because that’s what I normally do! It’s like playing tetris, all gaps must be filled.

  3. Love this article Peg! I’ve always struggled with taking care of myself. It’s especially important for me because as someone who struggles with depression and anxiety a little small thing can end up derailing my entire day. One thing I would add is to always keep a notebook with use wherever you go. I also recommend what Sunny Lenarduzzi does (which I’ve started doing) which is to have a gratitude journal that you write in.

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