We're always looking at productivity like it's the end result. But it's not. Productivity is a byproduct of focus and concentration.

At the speed of now, you’re not only asked to produce more at a faster rate, but you (as an individual, team or company) are constantly seeing the possibility to do many things at the same time.

At the company level, possibilities are things like dabbling in a new sector, implementing a new strategy, tweaking process or structure to satisfy new clients. Not inherently wrong in any way.

As an individual, you see it on a micro level. You have possibilities galore. You sit at your desk and click over to other projects, write emails, watch a youtube clip on Slack, make espresso, listen to music, no music, talk to your deskmate, ‘collaborate’ on this project, get pulled into this meeting, the list of things goes on and on.

But what are you doing?

Nothing kills productivity and quality more than the distraction of infinite possibilities. On the flip side, nothing boosts productivity more than knowing your direction and concentrating on your most important work.

There are several things you can do to eliminate distraction, let’s start with focus.

Know Your Focus

Focus is the long term strategy to get where you want to go. It helps narrow the infinite possibilities into specific, important steps towards defined success.

Richard St. John, author of The 8 Traits Successful People Have In Common, says “being focused means having a set direction that guides your day-to-day decisions.”

It's the bigger picture. Knowing it and keeping it front-and-center as you make decisions for yourself and the team is what focus is about. This, of course, is easier said than done, but it’s a real differentiator between employees and leaders who succeed and those who don’t.

When you know your focus, each task has reason for existing and getting done. This in turn gives everyone on the team purpose, which feeds their internal motivators (more on this later).

Concentrate on one task at a time

Where focus gives direction, concentration gets the work done. Concentration is the ability to eliminate distractions and do the work.

Because here’s another truism: quality work takes quality time.

Maybe not a lot of it, but time that's set aside to concentrate on the single most important thing you have to do right now.

This sounds backwards to many of us. The idea that we can successfully multitask is so appealing, we tend to believe in our ability to do it, even when the evidence says otherwise (like this study reported by Wired magazine).

And even when research tells us that multitasking is just switching tasks (as this NPR story reports), we believe we can do that successfully too.

It's not easy

What we’re saying is that concentrated work is difficult. The ability to narrow mental energies into a single task at a time is incredibly hard. You know this for yourself.

But it’s the only way to get quality work done fast. To eliminate distractions by setting a long-term focus and concentrating on your most important work of the day.

As a leader, giving your team the tools to do this is one of the most important things you can provide. By helping them see the bigger picture and concentrate on specific tasks, you’re giving everyone the ability to create their best work in record time.

Find out how Hourstack helps you and your team concentrate on one task at a time.


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