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کتاب: قانون 5 ثانیه / فصل 10

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CHAPTER TEN

INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

Productivity can be boiled down to one word—FOCUS. There are two types of focus you need to master productivity: First the ability to manage distractions so that you can focus moment-to-moment on the task at hand, and second, the skill of focusing on what’s truly important to you in the big picture, so you don’t waste your day on stupid stuff.

We’re going to explore both types of focus, take a look at the latest research on the subject, and learn how to use the #5SecondRule to master the skills of focusing your time on what’s most important and managing distractions when they pop up.

Get Serious About Managing Distractions

Managing distractions is like following through on health goals. You’re never going to feel like it; you just have to make yourself do it. You already know that being addicted to your phone, texting, and answering emails is a distraction…but stopping it feels impossible.

Even though you know you should turn off pop-up alerts, silence your phone, and stop checking email every five minutes, this knowledge doesn’t change your behavior. I could bury you with research about how bad this is, but it wouldn’t change your behavior. This is where the #5SecondRule comes into play—you don’t have to want to do it, you just have to push yourself to do it.

First you must decide that distractions are not good. Interruptions of any sort are the kiss of death for your productivity. Research shows open office spaces are a nightmare for focus. Checking email can become an addiction because of what behavioral researchers call “random rewards.” You have to decide that your goals are more important than push notifications. It’s that simple.

Then you just remove them. I’m not claiming this is rocket science. I’m also not going to tell you that it’s easy. But I promise you that if you use the #5SecondRule, you’ll actually do it. When you start to remove distractions and are able to focus on the moment-to-moment things that matter you will have “no idea” how much it will help, as Karen wrote:

Recently, I was talking about this with my high school-aged daughter Kendall. She loves social media, but would spend so much time on her phone that it was seriously distracting her from her schoolwork. Plus, it was making her feel insecure to constantly compare herself to the social media posts of celebrities and supermodels.

Just like you and me, she knew that social media was making her less productive when she needed to focus on homework. Kendall decided that the best way to manage the distraction of social media would be to get rid of the temptation—so she deleted photo sharing apps Instagram and VSCO from her phone.

In her words:

“After deleting it, it dawned on me how unimportant the stuff is to my life. When these apps were on my phone, it was an involuntary action to click on it and look. Now that the apps are gone, I don’t have the urge to look at it ever.” And distractions are not only in the form of technology and social media. Sarah found that her clutter was a major distraction in her life and decided to take action. She used the Rule to beat “emotional” hoarding and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and “donated, recycled, sold and also trashed” so much stuff:

By clearing through her junk with five second decisions, Sarah now feels “amazing” and is no longer “bogged down.” So if you find yourself getting distracted like Kendall was by social media or Sarah was by her surroundings, that’s a huge moment of power. You just woke up and now it’s time to shake up your environment. 5- 4- 3- 2- 1. Remove the distraction. It really is that simple and the rewards are powerful.

The harder and more powerful thing to do is to master the second type of focus: big picture focus. There’s one thing that I’ve used the #5SecondRule to do that has increased my big picture focus like nothing else—being a “boss” about my mornings.

Own Your Mornings

Taking control of your mornings is a game changer for productivity. The way I did it was to create a morning routine. Alissa found after she implemented her own morning routine, she started to “rule” her days:

Just as Alissa said, when you create a morning routine and follow it, you “set your intentions.” And over and over, you’ll trigger a chain of events that will shock you.

I owe my morning routine to Duke University professor Dan Ariely. According to Ariely, the first two to three hours of the day are the best hours for your brain, once you fully wake up. So, if you pop out of bed at 6 a.m., your peak thinking and productivity window is 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. And so on.

If your household is anything like ours, it’s chaos most mornings. Feeding the dog, getting breakfast ready, and guiding three school-ready kids out the door can chew up more than an hour and cut into your peak productivity window. That’s why I had to get serious about my mornings if I planned to be the boss of my day—and it started with getting up earlier so that I had time to focus on my big picture goals before the day hijacked me.

Here’s how I changed my routine to become a master at focusing on my priorities:

My Daily Routine

  1. I get up when the alarm rings.

We went over the importance of this when you learned about the Wake Up Challenge. The alarm rings. I get up. The end. For peak productivity, you should NEVER hit the snooze button. There’s actually a neurological reason why, one that I learned while conducting research for this book.

You know that getting a good night’s sleep is important for productivity. But I bet you didn’t know that how you wake up is just as important as how you sleep.Scientists have recently discovered that when you hit the snooze button it has a negative impact on brain function and productivity that can last up to four hours! Here’s what you need to know.

We sleep in cycles that take about 90 to 110 minutes to complete. About two hours before you wake up, these sleep cycles end and your body starts to slowly prepare to wake up. When your alarm rings, your body is in wakeup mode. If you hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep, you force your brain to start a new sleep cycle that is 90 to 110 minutes long.

When the “snooze” alarm goes off 15 minutes later, the cortical region of your brain, which is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, attention, alertness, and self-control, is still in the sleep cycle. It won’t be able to snap awake—it needs 75 more minutes to finish what that snooze button started.

It can take up to four hours for this “sleep inertia” condition to wear off and for your cognitive functions to return to their full capacity. That’s why you feel so darn groggy when you get up after hitting the snooze. It’s not because you didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because once you hit the snooze button, you started a new sleep cycle and then interrupted it. On days when you hit the snooze button, there’s no way you’re at your best.

So, I’m dead serious about this. The alarm goes off. No snooze button. Get up. Not negotiable.

  1. I walk to the bathroom and turn off the alarm.

My husband and I do not have our phones or alarm clocks in our bedroom or on our nightstands. Where is my phone? In the bathroom. Close enough so I can hear the phone ring if someone calls and the alarm ring in the morning. But, far enough so I don’t fall to temptation. If my phone is on the nightstand, I will grab it without thinking and stay in bed reading emails. You know you’re guilty of the same. If it’s in reach, it’s easy to grab without thinking. A majority of adults read emails before they get out of bed, and a recent study from Deloitte reports that one-third of adults and one-half of those under the age of 35 actually wake up and check their phones in the middle of the night. By putting my phone/alarm in the bathroom, I’m making it harder to succumb to the habit of reaching for my phone, and I am setting myself up for a good night’s sleep.

  1. I brush my teeth and focus on the day ahead.

I use the 3 to 5 minutes of time that I spend washing my face and brushing and flossing my teeth to focus my thoughts on what I really want and need to do for ME and MY big-picture goals. This is not a to-do list. This is a “must list.” It’s a moment when I consciously collect my thoughts and think of one or two things I might not feel like doing but that I must do today—for my goals, dreams, and business growth. Researchers call these SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). I just call them two things that will guarantee forward progress on things that matter to me. It’s usually the “crap” I don’t feel like doing, just as Morphin described:

  1. I get dressed, make my bed, walk into the kitchen, and pour a cup of coffee.

Have you noticed what I haven’t done yet? I haven’t looked at my phone or gone online to check email. Why? Because I know that the second I do, I will lose my focus. The moment you check email, read the news or surf social media, someone else’s priorities jump in front of yours. Do you think that Bill Gates and Oprah are lying in bed scrolling through social feeds? Nope, and neither should you. You must put yourself first, so do not check email until you plan YOUR day.

  1. I write down my 1 to 3 “musts” and why they are important.

In my cheapo daily planner that I bought at an office supply store, I jot down the one, two, or three things that I feel I must do today—that are for ME. There are a couple of reasons why this is an important step: one, because I am a visual person, and two, according to research by Dominican University of California psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, by simply writing down your goals, you are 42% more likely to achieve them.

Having them written in my planner means that I’ll see them throughout the day and be reminded to act. Having the “why” statement reminds me of why these goals are important and gives me an added push.

If I put them in my electronic calendar, I’ll forget about it. Half the time, I walk into a room and can’t remember what I walked in for—so I “stalk myself with my musts” by keeping them written down. When they are in my planner, which is something that I look at throughout the day, I’m cued visually. Seeing my “musts” reminds me to do these tasks. You can do this in a notebook, in your calendar, wherever—just write them down and keep them with you, just like Sharon does:

  1. I plan my day and take 30 before 7:30 a.m.

I plan and often execute the most important “musts” FIRST, before I check my phone or go online and check email. I do this using a tool I call “30 before 7:30 a.m.”

I take 30 minutes before 7:30 a.m. to plan out my day. During this time block, I either start working on my two or three musts or I schedule time to get them done later in the day. If I am home, I try to start this planning session at 7:00 a.m. when the last one of our kids leaves for the bus. These 30 minutes are critical to my success.

By setting up your day to make sure that you “focus on the right things,” as Jeremy does, you prime yourself to be “much more productive” and successful in accomplishing your goals for the day.

The concept of “30 before 7:30 a.m.” cannot be done once you walk into the office. You must do this at home or at your favorite coffee shop or on the train or sitting in your car in the parking lot. I’m not kidding. The moment you walk into your office and answer that first email or take that first call, your day is gone.

Professor Sune Carlsson studied how CEOs get so much accomplished. What was the secret of these high-powered executives? They worked at home for 90 minutes because “there was some chance of concentration.” At work, they reported being interrupted every 20 minutes. And what did I tell you about interruption? It’s the kiss of death to productivity.

Why else is it important to plan and do the most important stuff first thing?

Remember, as Dr. Ariely told us, the first 2 to 3 hours of the day are the best hours for the brain to focus on the tasks or goals that advance your own personal or professional goals. Filling that time with unimportant stuff is stupid.

Answering emails, taking phone calls, and sitting in meetings have a way of taking over your schedule and rarely lead to making major improvements in your life. For your own happiness and to protect the time necessary to focus on the deep work, the first few hours of your day must be grabbed by you, for you. Fight for it.

If you work on two things you consider important, you are making progress on projects that matter—and are winning the long game.

Waking up early and planning out your day has huge benefits. Just ask Mari:

By jumpstarting his mornings with early wakeups (no snooze!), checklists, and rituals, he has been able to take control, set his priorities straight and find time to start working on a new book. I followed up a few weeks later, asking Mari how the morning ritual was going:

That’s amazing, Mari, day #54 of being a boss. Tony did the same and found his “way back into the gym every morning at 5a!”:

I know it’s hard to get up that early and get right into a workout, but when you 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to find the activation energy to beat those feelings of resistance, you not only set yourself up to be the boss of your day, but you also activate your greatest self.

  1. I plan my quitting time.

Here’s something else I learned from research. In addition to planning my day, I also plan the time I will stop working. That’s right. Every day, when I start my day, I determine what time I will stop working and hang out with my family. Having a deadline for stopping or redirecting does two things: it makes me more intentional with the time I have and that makes me more productive.

There’s a principle called Parkinson’s Law—work expands to whatever time you give it. So give your workday a deadline. A deadline is important for stamina and mental health. It forces you to focus and be serious about taking the break from work. It’s a break that we all need to be present with our families and give our brains the time to rest, recharge, and reset that they require. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had to use the rule to force myself 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to turn off the computer to stop working for the day more often than I would like to admit.

Using this daily routine has helped immeasurably. It is how I put my priorities ahead of putting out daily fires. I feel more in control because I own my actions from the moment the alarm rings. I have more clarity (which helps spot opportunities) because I’ve defined the 2-3 big picture musts that will move my goals forward.

If I notice myself detouring from my routine or getting distracted, that’s a moment of power. I use the Rule, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to get back on track. Of course, you can create any routine that works, but if you are looking for a way to start, try mine. Lots of people have found great success adding exercise, meditation, and gratitude lists to their morning routines. Road test them all to see what works best for you.

What I’m telling you is simple, it’s obvious, and it works. Customize it so it works for you, but by all means 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to do it. When you do the work to be the boss of your day, as Christie says, it’s a “real game changer.” She has achieved the highest rank in her company and is “on fire.”

Now it’s your turn.

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