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  • Frank Wooden

Accomplishing More By Staying Focused

The obvious: People who are focused accomplish more than people who are not.

The not so obvious: People who are focused accomplish more than people who chase after the latest productivity tools in their attempt to get ahead.

Most of us understand the obvious but navigating the not so obvious proves to be more difficult. Staying focused may at times seem slow and plodding but it leads to completion. Jumping from one productivity tool to another in search of quicker turnaround time ends up costing time and breaking momentum. The goal is to produce results, not just constantly try to get faster at a process that doesn’t end in completion.

Some productivity tools are worth pursuing and will help you complete a task (Generative AI for example). How do you know when and what tool to pursue?

Don’t implement a new productivity tool in the middle of a project. Even if the tool may eventually prove to be helpful, in the short run it will be a distraction. Besides the learning curve that comes from implementing a new means, there will be a disruption in the process of completing a project.

I recently switched from a longtime task management software to a new one (Todoist). I did it because of added features but I knew that I would have a learning curve to get up to speed with it. When I made the switch, I made sure that I had no major projects going at the time. This enabled me to learn the new system when I had downtime.

A process is a means to an end; it is not the end. When I changed task management software, it was the first time I had done so in over five years and the only reason I did is because the new software came with AI integration. I am all in on AI but I am slowly and deliberately integrating it into my life. I believe it has the ability to make me at least 10% more efficient and effective at what I do. Taking the time to learn how to utilize AI in personal productivity will pay off in big ways in the months and years ahead.

If you are early on in developing your productivity process, make sure the tools you use are not expensive (either one-time or monthly cost) or inflexible. I regretted in my early years that I bought into a system that was neither inexpensive or flexible. One of those systems was Franklin-Covey. I had to buy a special binder with custom sheets, with many add-ons I never used. I eventually dumped it and created my own system until I switched to software.

Having made the switch to software tools years ago...

Don’t neglect the value of paper and pen. While I enjoy using my phone, iPad or laptop to track tasks and to do’s, I still like jotting notes and quick reminders on paper. It is still easier for me to keep track of things that pop into my head at random places and times by writing them down. Sometimes I just need to see something this way to remember it.

I don’t like opening a laptop in a one-on-one meeting because it creates a physical barrier with the other person and I find that my fingers don’t type fast or accurate enough on my I bring a notebook into these meetings.

Fast does not equal efficient. Thoroughness equals efficient. If you can find a faster way of being thorough, then utilize it; if you can’t, then don’t.

One solar system salesman contacted 100 homeowners and sold two solar system installs. In the same amount of time, a second salesman contacted 50 homeowners, spent more time talking with them and explaining the benefits of solar, and sold 5 systems. The second salesman was more effective even though he only contacted half the homeowners in the same amount of time.

Too much of our quest for efficiency is spent on speed, not thoroughness. The sweet spot for accomplishment is efficiency and effectiveness. This is when you will accomplish more than you ever have before!

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