“Hey! I know you are finding it tough to focus and be productive nowadays!”
This is what my boss told me after a monthly review meeting. I nodded with a smile, just to play safe.
After all, we are a long way to admit our faults and stand tall on pedestals of our strengths.
The boss was right and I knew that.
May be I was spreading myself too thin and just on the surface of everything.
I decided to seek help: so here I was in a book store and for the first time I came out without a book but a great lesson that changed by life for better
(the title was enough to give me the clarity I needed).
“BE HERE NOW”*
Hence I decided to ward off distractions to help me focus,
This is what I did and it is changing my life for better every day.
Mojo of Small Things presents How I became HYPER Productive in 5 Simple Steps?
First: Keeping my phone on silent.
‘Answer your inner calls first’
I started to keep it silent from 10 pm to 5 am initially, then moving on to the entire day
(don’t try doing this stuff (as it is) if you work in emergency services of some sort)
Needless to say, it annoyed some of my friends (the true ones still stayed).
First few days were tough – with ever exiting feeling of “May be I am missing out on something?”, which eventually died.
You have got to get out of the feeling that ‘stuff won’t work if you are not picking up the phone’.
It helped me in two ways:
First: Only calls that I get now are from the loved ones who actually care or my serious professional associates.
Second: I am able to sit long hours without any phone-based distractions.
I do use my phone to set an alarm between work slots.
Second: Letting go of reading a newspaper.
What you feed your mind with is, What you feed your life with.
Yeah! I stopped reading the newspaper (but that is not the whole story).
The rest of the story is: I (deliberately) became a better listener and picked up BOOKS & MAGAZINES.
Of the things you need to do and all the deadlines you need to meet – reading a newspaper can be relaxed for a while I assume.
I got 2 EXTRA HOURS / DAY and that helped me work on myself and gain focus.
A fortnightly magazine can leave you with much leisure time to read without the guilt that comes with an unread old newspaper.
Also, a magazine may help you pick up your interest areas in a better way.
Deliberate, planned and mindful reading is what is going to help you re-create yourself every day.
I do read the Sunday newspaper – I have time and there is a lot of stuff that can help you become a better learner and start conversations.
Third: Controlling my screen time.
A device is to help you DO- not to plan, think and ponder.
I stopped watching TV and rationed my laptop time(and the phone).
Someone wise told me once,” A laptop is a ‘doing’ device and not a ‘thinking device’”.
So keeping it ON all the time is not an indicator of stuff being done.
I decided to keep very focused laptop usage sessions and guess what?
It increased my productivity.
The phone and the laptop stuff combined led to a good sleep routine –
SO we are not complaining anymore of less sleep or more cuddling.
What if I write on my device?
Use pen and paper to jot down the ideas that come while moving, walking, eating, sleeping or whenever.
Fourth: Devising a switch off routine: Work and beyond.
Carrying work home and carrying home to your work is an injustice to both.
When you are able to focus, one hour becomes 60 wonderful minutes.
You can get more work done especially the stuff that NEEDS to get done.
Great! You are doing stuff that matters and now it is time to move home.
When it comes to work, most of us are made to feel guilty for not doing enough.
I was doing what most people in this situation were doing – I started cutting on sleep, family time and self-renewal.
Everything went for a toss.
More time I spent working, lesser was I getting done.
A grocery store owner came to my rescue,
Every day He switches offs his work phone from 8 pm to 8 am and when I asked him why?
He replied,” Why do we earn? So as to own our time and have a quality life.”
I decided to give it a shot – Let go of device distraction, work calls and emails after office hours but with communication that I will get back to you first thing in the morning.
This is what I did: Below every email, I started writing – the Best time to call and
Since I may be busy doing your stuff or travelling, I am most likely to check my emails thrice a day 10 am, 2 pm and 5 pm.
My family life improved and I got rid of unnecessary urgency to check my work emails.
Shut work stuff and go for a run. I chose cycling so that the transition from work to home is non-toxic.
Fifth & Last: Being mindful about whom to interact with and be a better listener.
Whom you share your meal with, is the one you share your mind with.
Water Cooler talks are good but not when it stops you from being your best.
Once distracted, it can take a lot of time to refocus on stuff you were busy earlier – worst that state of mind may never come.
Normal people talk about people,
Smart people talk about events,
Great people talk about ideas.
Find people who are better than you and then spend time with them once you are done with your stuff.
An amazing family and life are just 5 steps away- Claim your time, Acquire a restful mind, Increase love, happiness and work better.
Mojo of Small Things
* (Book by Ram Dass, an American Spiritual Teacher trained in India).