What keeps you from your goals?
Procrastination is your goal’s greatest enemy. We know this, and yet we all do it. We put off difficult decisions and mundane tasks, convincing ourselves there’s a more appropriate time to take care of things further down the road.
What we’re doing when we procrastinate is conceding control of the situation to a future self who we hope will be ready to do what we couldn’t today. If you find yourself procrastinating, you need to take back control with Attention Management.
Attention Management is today’s hottest productivity tool, and the guru of the focused attention movement is Maura Thomas. She’s Marie Kondo for your mind.
In her piece in the Harvard Business Review, Thomas wrote, “Attention management is the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus so you can unleash your genius.”
When you practice attention management, you choose which assignments are most important and warrant your full attention. It’s the art of practicing productivity mindfulness to reach a flow state of optimal creative and productivity output.
What is a Flow State?
A flow state is a feeling in which you become completely immersed in the task at hand. Athletes, chess players, ad executives — people in every conceivable field have moments where they are in the zone and crushing it.
Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura brought the concept of flow into our current vernacular describing it as a, “Focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other.”
How to Achieve Flow:
- Care about the task — It doesn’t have to be your favorite thing, but having an intellectual or emotional investment in what you’re doing makes it easier to reach flow. Find a way to gain satisfaction from executing the task well.
- Perform a ritual — Prime yourself by doing something that puts you in the proper mindset. It can be as simple as making tea, lacing up your shoes, or doing a breathing exercise.
- Select the most important task — Flow state comes from a singular focus on one big objective. Your brainpower needs to be concentrated in one area, so leave the multitasking for another time.
- Choose your most productive time — When are you most creative and able to focus? Are you a morning person? Do you do your best work after everyone is asleep? Flow state happens when you’re at your best.
- No interruptions — Phone calls, notifications, people entering your office to chat — these are distractions and the nemeses of flow. Switch your electronics to focus or Do not Disturb mode. Put your mobile on silent. Give yourself a peaceful environment conducive to deep concentration.
Setting and achieving goals is easier than it sounds. It is challenging to set a measurable goal that contributes to your overall success. It is even more challenging to deal with the distractions and challenges you will face when pursuing your goals. Lucky for all of us, the goal setting process is something we can improve with a little coaching and focus.
To learn more about how to set effective goals and becoming more productive, click on one of our resources below:
This is one of our executive briefings taken from our series of professional online business short courses from ELL. We have over 150 courses online with over 1,000 hours of e-learning covering a wide range of topics across leadership, management and personal & professional development created by industry experts and learning professionals.