5 Ways to Focus and Get More Work Done
Getting work done in a highly efficient and effective manner is a competitive advantage in recruiting. Whether you’re a laser-focused man/woman of action, or day-dreaming mess of distraction, these 5 tips will help you not only be more focused and productive, but as research has shown, will make you a happier person.
A 2010 study by Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth of Harvard concluded that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Gilbert and Killingsworth developed an iPhone app that asked participants at random intervals to rate how focused they were, what they were doing, and how they were feeling (ranging from very bad to very good) at the time of the question. Not surprisingly, having sex rated #1 (I’m guessing this was prior to being interrupted by the survey), #2 was exercising, and #3 was talking/communicating. Working was second to last on the list!
Image caption: Science. November 2010. A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. M. Killingsworth and D. Gilbert.
So how can we create the virtuous cycle of being more focused, and therefore more productive and happier, while engaged in what most of us spend a third of our lives doing – working?
Number 1: Set Clear and Precise Goals. Setting goals is so obvious, so commonly prescribed, yet often very difficult to do. NY Times bestselling author of Crazy Busy and Driven to Distraction, Dr. Ned Hallowell, has a technique that helps chunk out goal setting:
Everyday write down three goals, not more than three. Then make sure you complete these goals by being focused and intentional. Also, write down three medium-term goals to be completed in a week to two weeks. Next, write three long-term goals that you want to accomplish in 6 months to a year. Lastly, write down three lifetime goals. Identifying these various goals will force you to prioritize. If you don’t prioritize, you will try to do everything at once and at the end of the day find yourself exhausted from being very busy, but not accomplishing much of anything.
Number 2: Reset you default response to “Let me get back to you.” Being responsive to client requests with diligent customer service and timely communication is essential for successful recruiting, but if you’re not careful, saying yes to every request and promising the world can quickly lead to you becoming overcommitted, overbooked and overstretched. Most of us tend to be very generous with the words “yes” and “sure.” Give yourself permission to take time and think and respond with “Let me get back to you” or “Let me think about it.” People respect honest answers.
Number 3: Leverage technology – the right technology. While technology has the potential to cause us to lose focus, it can also do wonders for our productivity. Choosing the right technology is critical. Whether it’s a productivity app for your mobile device or recruiting software for your firm, it’s essential to make sure the technology is intuitive, solves an urgent need and works as fast as you do.
Number 4: Avoid interruption time suck. The average recruiter deals with up to 50 interruptions per day according the report “The Ultimate Revenue Roadmap.” Some of the interruptions are out of their control (urgent phone calls, emails etc.) and some are self-induced.
The solution is to have a set amount of time to peruse social media, follow the endless rabbit hole of recommended videos, or digest the latest news. Then return to focusing on your goals. It’s necessary to create boundaries that technology is so good at permeating. The end-goal is to switch from reactive mode to focused/intentional mode.
Number 5: Acknowledge that it’s difficult. If people who are focused report significantly higher levels of happiness than those who are not, then why is focusing on tasks so difficult for many people?
It’s interesting that exercising was the second highest rated activity for happiness. How many of us avoid that? Nature tends toward entropy and disorder. Organization imposes order and that requires work. People have a natural tendency to avoid pain. It’s no wonder being highly productive is not an easy endeavor.
With the right processes, habits and technology in place, you will see a measurable difference in your productivity and your overall well-being.