I used to think that bouncing around from project to project (or activity) every few minutes was the key to my productivity. “I need variety!” I thought.
Wrong! What I was actually doing was burning up attention and willpower each and every time I switched tasks. I wondered why I was so exhausted only halfway through the day and why I’d gotten so little done at the end of it.
Learning to focus on one project at a time is the real key to both productivity and making the most of your energy. Well, now I know. 🙂
Of course, “just focusing” is much easier said than done. So, today, I’m recommending three books that will help you sit down, get to work, and stop bouncing from work to Instagram to email to, oh, pretty much anything else that pops up.
Now, this one is kind of interesting since Eyal also wrote a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. I guess that since he’s taught companies how to suck us into their products, he’s trying to teach us how to not get sucked in. Make of that what you will, but this book is an excellent look at why we get hooked on and distracted by certain things and what we can do to avoid those distractions and stay focused.
We need focus now more than ever in an era where our phone rings, beeps, and buzzes, and our email chimes and pops up with little numbers in the corner effectively saying, “check me, I have a new message!” So many things compete for our attention, and if you find you’re getting pulled away from tasks by things that don’t actually matter, you need a reset.
As Eyal says in Indistractible, the key isn’t just writing off our devices. Instead, he gives a four-step system for following through on what we say we’re going to do.
Favorite quote: “Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality.”
Hyatt takes a slightly different look at focusing, including the idea that some kinds of tasks are not actually WORTH focusing on. He helps you evaluate what’s truly important in your job, cut out what’s not, and make sure that your time and focus is spent on activities that will move you forward in your life and energize you instead of those that deplete you.
Favorite quote: “I wish I had a nickel for every time someone excused their lack of productivity by saying, ‘I tried that before, and it didn’t work.’ That is definitely not the mantra of high-achievers. In fact, high-achievers never give up simply because one solution failed. Instead, they keep looking for what will work, and they don’t stop until they find it.”
Of course, it’s a lot easier to focus on the task at hand when you feel unflappable in general. Holliday’s book delves into what he calls “stillness” or the power to centered, even-keeled, and focused. He draws on the example of famous figures in history and gives us tips about how to cultivate stillness in ourselves. (I’m still working on it.)
Favorite quote: “The less energy we waste regretting the past or worrying about the future, the more energy we will have for what’s in front of us.”
Your turn! Are there any great books on focus that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.
Last Updated on October 6, 2022