Paying Attention to the Right Things

April 15, 2020

24 hours a day. 7 days a week. And, 365 days in a year. It may sound like a lot but, in reality, how often do you find yourself 3 and a half months into a year with all of your productivity goals unaccomplished and your Netflix watched list filled to the brim? Well, if you’re in this position, you might still be telling yourself something along the lines of “Oh, it’ll be fine. There’s always tomorrow, next week or next month”. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that, in our productivity-obsessed and paper chasing culture, this kind of personal philosophy will leave you in the dust.

Even in this Covid-19 stricken world, the world has continued to move at a rapid rate. Reports show that more and more companies have been taking advantage of government schemes to re-train employees in anticipation for an economic recovery that sits a nearing horizon now that China has re-opened for business. So, its time for your brain to leave lockdown mode and start working to improve yourself. But, I understand. As a serial procrastinator - myself-, I know how difficult transitioning into productivity can be so here is your personal guide to getting ahead in your personal productivity.

Set Realistic Goals

If you’re spending all day lounging on your sofa with a bowl of Pringles and a can of Coca Cola now, don’t expect yourself to start spending 20 hours on work tomorrow. While aiming high is important, don;t try to reach for heaven when you’re still stuck in B3 and your ladder is about 1 metre tall. If you haven’t started on productivity at all, try adding an hour of work time in between binging new episodes of ‘Stranger Things’. And, make sure to increase it over time as you get more accustomed to this way of life.

If one hour is proving to be a challenge, try breaking up the work time. Try not to lessen the work time or work load that you have given yourself unless necessary because reducing those may result in you doing too little to be deemed productive.

Ready. Set. Think.

Setting 3 hours aside to write that 1,200 report is great. However, if 2 and a half of those hours are spent staring blankly at the blinking cursor on your document, you know you’ve failed. You see the trick to productive work may not always be about scheduling time to do the work but, rather, making sure that you can fully utilise your time when doing your work. The key to this is your attention levels.

Make sure that you can focus during your scheduled time. The best way to do it is to start typing from the get-go. Don’t go up to get that Kit Kat that you think you need to munch on or that coffee that you so desperately ‘need’. Just keep typing and thinking for the first ten minutes without switching tabs, save for research or reference. Most of the time, this helps to kickstart your brain into work mode. So, even if half of what you’ve written might have been gibberish, the cogs in your mind have started turning and you are now in the right headspace to work. Try not to break your concentration after that. A break after about 60-90 minutes of work will do you good but anything before only serves as a distraction.

Keep Track of Your Tasks

This should be a given when doing any kind of task. However, while it may seem obvious, it is often one of the most forgotten steps in task management. Most project managers or individuals often find themselves so engrossed in their work or personal productivity that they forget to punch the numbers into their apps or datasheets.

But, fear not because, with new technological advancements, managing tasks have not been easier. These days, there are apps that can help link the number of hours spent working to the task so you no longer have to type it in everyday. Thus, ensuring that you can accurately track yours and your team’s progress.

Give Yourself Something Nice to Look At

Learning new skills and working hard on a project is great but the cruel reality of the situation is that most people are not able to work unless they see some form of results. The best way to do can be done with the help of tracking your progress. Apps that track your progress tend to have an automation function that allows you to see your progress in chart form.

These charts are critical since they serve as oil and firewood that will continue to feed the passion and interest within you that will motivate you to work harder. Seeing an exponential growth in progress can often lead to you working harder and accomplishing more. On the flipside, it is also a good indication of whether or not your effort has paid off. If your results are often in the red, maybe it is time to relook that schedule.

Everyone always talks about paying attention to the right things when it comes to personal productivity. But, the reality is that the definition of the ‘right thing’ remains blurry. There are those that prioritise comfort and mental wellbeing while there are others that look at time management and work done. All of these are important. However, the most critical part about working hard on a skill or project is to stay motivated and the best way to do that may be to physically visualise your previously invisible progress report. That way, you can find out for yourself how well you are doing. To start seeing your progress go up, start using VAL’s FREE plan to track and manage your team’s tasks now. If you think you want to learn more, have a coffee with ThinkVAL to learn more about how you can improve your business with the power of data.

Source NYTimes (2019. 28 March) Smarter Living Productivity isn’t about time management. Its about attnetion management
Garfinkle (2019.) Executive Coaching Articles 14 Ways to Increase Productivity
Inc.com (2019.) MOST PRODUCTIVE ENTREPRENEURS 15 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work


About VAL

VAL, also known as the Value Aggregation Layer, is an all-in-one data collaborative data operations solution that lets you operationalize your day-to-day work and discover actionable insights from your data.


About the author

Nicole is a freelance designer and writer that has written articles for different sectors.