Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Not-So Secret Tips of Accomplishing Tasks

There are things that need to get done in life and we admire those who accomplish them. The strategies they use are not secret, but there is good research as to why they work. Here are a few tips I've learned from the best.

1. Clarify your goal. The best "doers" I've met set crystal clear goals for the time they have so they know exactly what they want to get done. The clearer you are with your goals, the more you will accomplish.

2. Set a meeting with yourself. If you really need to accomplish a task, set aside some time to do that. And then, just as if you would in a meeting, turn off your handheld device and your emails. Research indicates that when you are working intently on something, a call or an email can distract your level of intensity for up to 15 minutes.

3. Work in 90 minute increments. The brain can only focus intently for about 90 minutes at a time. After that, with all the discipline in the world, you will find yourself distracted. Try working intently on something for 90 minutes, do something else for about 5 minutes and then go back to the more serious work. You will accomplish much more.

4. Focus on one thing at a time. In this hyper-paced society we believe we have to do three things at once. If you are honest with yourself, when you do three tasks simultaneously you do all three badly. Our brain is not capable of performing more than one complex task at a time. If you really want to get something done, just do that one thing.

The amusing part of these four steps is that most of us know them. We've heard them from various sources and can talk about them all day. Then why do most of us complain about getting nothing done and a small few get a lot accomplished? Because they actually do these steps and don't just talk about them. They "manage" their family, friends, associates, business colleagues and the rest of the world not to expect immediate responses but to know that everything will get done. And they practice the discipline of focusing for short bursts of time and then giving themselves a break.

That's how to get things done.

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