The Enemy of Productivity

Multi tasking is not a skill, it's a detriment to getting things done. It kills productivity. It stifles creativity, and it's the complete opposite of focus. It's physically impossible to do two things at once, unless one of them is mindless like walking or breathing. Even when talking or listening, we actually have reduced attention span and won’t hear or say things as well if we are trying to do other things at the same time. So when we are “multi tasking"  we aren't doing two things at once, we are just switching our brain rapidly from one task to another. Which this makes it virtually impossible to concentrate. We scan the crowd when in a conversation, we check email incessantly while working on an important project and we get......So. Little. Done. Not acceptable!

It's best to sit down and do one thing at a time, and then move on to the next. If we completely finish something, it can be out of our brain and we can use all our energy and attention to tackle the next project and complete it. If you struggle with concentration, try these two simple techniques to improve your focus.

1. Set a timer. 

Don’t try to go all out and concentrate for an entire day. If you aren’t used to it, you will be fighting your brain the entire time trying to maintain the willpower to keep your thoughts and mouse from wandering. Instead, give yourself 30 minutes where you will be ultra focused and allow yourself to do absolutely nothing but the task at hand. That amount of time is manageable for you to focus, and then you can take a break and do little tasks. Then try another 30 minutes, then another, and eventually you will have learned to control your impulses to do lots of things at once.

2. No interruptions.

turn off your wi-fi, cell phone, alerts and lock your door. Yes we usually sabotage ourselves by checking email, texting etc. But a huge amount of interruptions are generally from the outside as well. You can control that. Take a break. Unplug, and be productive. If you are afraid of missing something important, let people know that you won’t be available so they can contact you later. Tell them you have a dead zone from 2-4pm every day, and then disappear into your project. Even just two hours of focused work is better than an entire 8 hour day with too many water cooler conversations, internet surfing and bathroom breaks.

When you are engrossed in your work with zero interruptions, you will find yourself refreshed and much more productive.  Try it out!

How to be a good listener in 6 (not so simple) steps

Connected and engaged listening is an incredible skill. Good listening can be awfully difficult, but as it’s practiced, it will  become a habit. It’s beneficial to every relationship because people need to feel they are being heard and understood. If you can do this consistently and well, you will have learned a great way to show love. To listen well, you must first want to listen. Force yourself to be engaged in the conversation whether you’re interested or not. If you're going to undertake a conversation, don’t do it half heartedly. It’s disrespectful and deceitful to have your mind occupied elsewhere as you pretend to be listening. Whatever method you take for capturing your thoughts and creating the desire to be engaged, do it!

Now that you've cultivated the desire to hear what the other person has to say, it's only reasonable that you Do NOT engage in other activities while you are listening. It makes the other feel uncomfortable and unimportant. Multi tasking is indeed a skill, but there are certain times that full and complete attention to one thing is worth the effort. This is one of those areas. Regardless of whether you did hear them amidst your project, the speaker feels as though you didn’t.

It's uncomfortable at first, but it speaks volumes if you maintain eye contact. We have all experienced telling a story, where we get distracted because we wonder what on earth is behind us, to our right, left and above us. Flies? Bubbles? Angels? People’s eyes dart all over the place, and we rush to finish the story as soon as possible. Their lack of eye control makes us assume they're looking for the nearest exit. It takes self control to maintain eye contact, but it's worth developing.

Okay so this one requires some serious self control. Hold your tongue until there's a good pause to insert your comments. Don’t interrupt! People need to feel they have been heard. When you don’t allow them to finish their sentence, you are telling them, you don't care what they have to say.

When you do interject with your own thoughts, first off, acknowledge what was said, and then talk in the same streams of thought. Don’t completely change the subject, until you have given it a little attention, to show you were indeed interested. You can do this, by sharing a similar experience, or by asking good questions. Another facet of this is to mimic their feelings and body language in your own facial expressions and gestures, while they're talking. It shows your engaged, and empathetic.

That's a significant amount to think about as someone is telling you about their trip to the mall, or recent family reunion but the return on investment is huge. That person will walk away feeling loved, important, and special. So to recap......

To Listen Well:

1. create the desire to listen

2. don’t engage in other activities

3. maintain eye contact

4. don’t interrupt

5. acknowledge what they said

6. mimic body language

“People won't remember what you did or said, but they will remember how you made them feel" unknown author