'Be More Productive' (part 3) Project Management Blog by Jason Womack

Before you plan, know what you don’t have to plan. In my coaching work, I find a common denominator to low productivity, inefficiencies in the workplace and meetings being run ineffectively:

There’s too much to do, think about and manage at once. 

When you have that much on your mind at once, it is challenging to focus on the one thing that needs your attention at a time.

The Myth of Mulittasking
The myth of multitasking continues to get spread as an alternative to the issue many knowledge workers complain about: They don’t have enough time. So when others see us processing email while on a conference call, reading a book while watching the news, researching through a document while eating lunch are all acceptable behaviors at work, they figure we’re just that busy.

Your mind will re-mind you of things to work on, think about and remember throughout the day. Our mind seems to be on overdrive, more than just an Inbox collecting potentially new ideas, but also some kind of  'list manager' keeping track of as much as it can throughout the day, as we go to our meetings and as we try to focus on one 'high priority thing'.

For a couple of days, try an experiment. Before you’re about to focus on one thing (attend a meeting, read a document, work on a project), make a list of all that you don’t need to think about for the next ### minutes. If I could advise you, I'd say to take anywhere from 7-10 minutes, and make a list of at least 75 things that you would “prefer to think about later”. If you write (I recommend doing this by hand) fast, don’t censor, and commit to capturing anything, you’ll find that piece of paper fill up rather quickly.

The purpose of doing this activity is to let your mind know what you’re thinking about, that you won’t have to think about for a little while. It’s a great way to “Clear the Mechanism” (a great quote by Kevin Costner in one of his films a while back) and give you permission and the ability to focus on your most important thing.

A main reason we get pulled out of productivity is that there is just too darned much to focus on, remember and do at any given time.

Give yourself a gift, think about what you don’t have to think about… so you can think about that one you do need to focus on!

Human performance psychologist Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA provides an overview of highly effective workplace performance practices. As an author and executive coach, Jason works throughout the Americas and EMEA to improve workflow and efficiency, coaching senior management and providing sustainable workplace methodologies to front, mid, and back-office support staff.

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