Last week I had a meeting with a client who is challenged with something that many of us have in the current work environment: difficult time focusing and getting all the work done. Our development plan is to help her with focus, clarity and simplicity in her approach to her performance, career goals and aspirations.
One of the methods that I suggest, and have also used personally, is to work in 90 minute intervals. This is something that I learned from a great book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz.The next day I attended The Wall Street Journal’s live chat “Find Your Focus, Master Distraction” by Peter Bregman who is the author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.
As someone who speaks, coaches and trains on how to maximize your productivity and time, “18 Minutes” intrigued me. While I haven’t read the book yet, I am an avid Harvard Business Review blog reader and Peter’s columns are always some of my favorites (If you follow me on Linked in or Facebook, you know this!).
During this live chat, Peter suggested that we each set 5 big picture goals. He also suggested that we work in shorter bursts of 18 minutes but only allow ourselves to focus solely on those 5 core goals. I wholeheartedly agree with the 5 goals, but 18 minutes? That seems to go against the general school of thought about focusing for a significantly longer period of time without interruption.
In response to the question, “how do I get started?”, Peter live chat answer was: “What I realized is that I don’t need a lot of motivation to work on something – I just need the motivation to start it. So…I would say the best thing you can do is get started. Decide that you will spend 10 minutes doing something and then, if you want, after ten minutes, you’ll stop. I can’t remember ever actually stopping after the ten minutes though. Once I’ve got momentum, I just continue. Start with just ten minutes”.
I laughed as I thought to myself: Huh. The advice to get something done is to start it. Pretty simple. And it makes sense, especially when it’s a task that we truly enjoy.
So what did I do? I started writing this newsletter because I was inspired. But instead of judging myself for being distracted from the live chat session or feeling anxious about what I was putting off to do this, I just started. Why? Because this task relates to two of my core goals: 1) Learning: Continuously keeping on top of business, organizational and professional development industry trends and opinions 2) Sharing: Providing value to KYS subscribers by offering tips, thoughts and ideas for more success in the workplace.
As I continued writing I looked up at the clock thinking that at least 10 minutes had passed. Indeed it had. 45 minutes in fact. The live chat was over and I was so focused on writing that I didn’t even notice. Now that’s the space I wish I was in much more of the time – where work just flows. But it only flowed because I began.
So now it’s time give you a challenge:
Each day this this week try the following: If you have something that really matters to you but you are waiting for the perfect time. Don’t. Just start now. Try it for 10 minutes.
I look forward to hearing about how it goes….or flows.