With so many distractions – notifications, tools, messages – most of us find it harder and harder to really concentrate on delivering our projects. It takes planning and effort to help us cope in such a noisy environment. While looking for methods to boost productivity, I stumbled upon a classic: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
In his best-seller, Stephen Covey addresses a very important problem: what has to change in order to reshape a behavior?
Generally speaking, there are two ways one can progress in life: by improving a skill, like time management, or by working on one’s own character. The first approach is effective if you are looking for a shortcut to success, but real personal growth can only be reached by changing something fundamental, such as a habit.
Here’s how you can adapt each habit from Stephen Covey’s book to improve your day to day activity and reach that productivity boost you badly want.
Habit #1 – Be proactive
Many people are not proactive in life, but rather reactive. They react to external factors and their behavior and emotions change depending on their environment. Hence, for example, they can be focused only if it’s completely quiet in the office and no one interrupts them. People who are proactive, on the other hand, determine their own circumstances.
Don’t want to be interrupted? Sign out from your social media account. Turn off notifications.
Habit #2 – Begin with the end in mind
Working to become more focused is pointless if you don’t know why you’re doing this in the first place. Not knowing what’s really important to you and why you’re working towards it is like planning for a failure. To avoid this, it’s important to first be aware of your goal. Answer this question: why do you want to be more productive at work? Find out what motivates your actions and you’ll gain the will to focus, even in the noisiest environments.
Habit #3 – Put first things first
“First thing first” means you should prioritize thoroughly. Approaching every task chaotically won’t ever lead you to a more productive self. According to Stephen Covey, this doesn’t mean you have to put together to-do lists and then just tick them off one by one. “First thing first” means you should be able to distinguish between the important tasks and the trivial ones. This will boost productivity in ways you could not have imagined 😉
Habit #4 – Think Win-Win
If it’s distractions that hold you back, think of what others will gain if you’re more focused at work. Make this change part of something greater than yourself, and your entire team will benefit from your positive outcomes.
Habit #5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood
We mentioned “interruptions” many times as one of the biggest enemies of focus and productivity. But why do they happen? If you’re often asked for help on a particular matter, wouldn’t it be easier to just document the solution so that anyone can access it whenever necessary? This would solve a routine problem and will keep everyone on your team happy.
Habit #6 – Synergy
Stephen Covey sees synergy with others as a way of recognizing and appreciating differences. When people really synergize, they listen to each other, they empathize with one another and work together towards achieving a greater result.
Are you the only one on your team looking to improve your focus? Do you have friends or family members who share the same goal? Find a system to motivate each other, sharing ideas and solutions.
Habit #7 – Sharpen the saw
If you want to be able to focus on a task, take good care of your most important resource: your own physical energy. Eat right, get enough sleep and exercise, and stay motivated. It might sound like a platitude, but if you’re lacking sleep or you’re too stuffed after lunch, it’s impossible to focus, no matter how hard you try. “Sharpen the saw” if you want to keep sawing.