Focus on one thing at a time

I believe that splitting your concentration and even – gasp – multitasking means you end up with lots of things not finished. Probably not as good as they could be, either, but chiefly unfinished. Writer James Clear argues that there’s more to this one-thing-only approach, though, and he starts with trying to prove its value:

If you want to master multiple habits and stick to them for good, then you need to figure out how to be consistent. How can you do that?

Well, here is one of the most robust findings from psychology research on how to actually follow through on your goals:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Researchers found that people who filled out this sentence were 2x to 3x more likely to actually exercise compared to a control group who did not make plans for their future behavior. Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior.

The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time | James Clear

The rest of the article is more about the philosophy of concentrating. Read the full piece.

Using alarms to pace out your day

Actually, this is about a lot of things including focus and moving on to new tasks and I was just going to quote you an excerpt but I’d like you to see the whole video. It’s a talk by a designer and illustrator I’ve never heard of before and I can’t say I’m exactly drawn to his work now, but there’s interesting stuff about being creative and productive.

Sort of a good deal: iA Writer down to 69p

I say this is sort-of a good deal because I learnt of the price drop, remembered how enthusiastically people had recommended this app to me and I bought it on the spot. And it was only as I tried writing in it that I looked through the controls and found a line saying “Buy the Pro version”.

The Pro version is only £2.99 but you just know that all the enthusiasts were enthusing about that edition so the one I’ve got isn’t the one they meant. It’s only 69p but I was on the fence about trying to take on another word processor so I find I’m unwilling to go plop down £2.99 until I know what the differences are.

But whether you look at the 69p one or the Pro £2.99, go take a look in the App Store. You can’t believe how much praise I’ve heard for iA Writer.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

But apparently I might get more done:

When you’re all riled up, you tend to focus on only the source of your anger. You want to get to the core of the problem. In this case, your anger allows you to zero in on the most important task for the day. You want to eliminate the problem right away, so you don’t bother with multitasking.

Additionally, the adrenaline that rushes through your body allows you to become uninhibited. It produces confidence that allows you to do things that you normally wouldn’t do, but within reason.

So you see, anger is not a bad thing after all—if you know how to use it properly. That begs the question, “How exactly can you use anger to become more productive?”

Feeling Stuck? Make Your Anger Work for You – Cecille Doroja, Pick the Brain (15 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Easily distrac- what?

When I need to concentrate, I switch my iPhone to Do Not Disturb, I tell Siri to set a timer for one hour and maybe I put on headphones. Write until the hour alarm goes off, done. It works for me.

But right now, this moment, I am finding it hard to concentrate because I’ve been working on one big project all week. The one-hour bursts are fine for that but it’s like I’ve reached a limit. I am full of that work, my head is folding over, there’s no room for anything more to do with it. Consequently even though I am right on deadline, I am actively seeking out distractions.

Naturally, then, the first thing I find is this about not being distracted.

Knowing what you have to do during the day, and scheduling time slots for each task, will help you to break you workload into manageable chunks. Prioritising the more important tasks first will ensure these get done and aren’t impacted by the less important tasks over running.

Purchase a calendar with enough space on each day to write in your workload. As you work through your day, tick off the complete tasks to show what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve left to do.
If you’ve any items that are flexible in terms of deadline then these can be moved to a different day if required and it’s always a good idea to leave some time during the day free for any unplanned things that might arise.

Easily Distracted At Work? Here’s 12 Ways To Fix That – Barry (no surname given), (1 July 2014)

Barry “No Surname” Given also proposes eating well and sleeping, amongst – hang on, counts on fingers – nine other ways to keep you focused.

Fortunately, he mentions one way to be distracted: YouTube. I’m off there right now.

Five personal rules by Swiss Miss

I’ve long been reading the work of designer Swiss Miss, aka Tina Roth Eisenberg. She’s clever and she has taste and I did not realise until this talk that she is also insane. Admirably so.

This is how – and why – she started a new business the day she gave birth to her daughter. Then she decided she didn’t like having clients, so she stopped.