Video Transcript

Hi, it’s David Patmore here from Cal Corporate Solutions with a quick technique from one of our workshops called ‘Creating Productive Habits’.

With the increase of hybrid and remote workplace challenges, sophisticated information systems and the high level of digital traffic that modern day workers must navigate, it is easy to understand how quickly we can lose focus and easily feel overwhelmed with the daily workload. Let me share one helpful technique called laser focus. This will give you the ability to adapt to the unpredictables of your day as well as maintain the mental concentration and energy to get stuff done.

So how does it work? Well, laser focus is built on two principles. The first principle is something called an adaptive strategy. The analogy I like to use is the GPS. If you plugged in a destination in your GPS and you get off course, the GPS kindly reroutes you and gets you back on track. So having an adaptive strategy is like that, where you’re able to deal with the unpredictables or the unexpected things that happen in your day and reroute and get back on track quickly.

The second thing is to have a system. Most of us have tools and methods we use. Some of those obviously can be phones or devices or even just email coming through our desktop, whatever it might be that we use, it is very easy to fall into habits of reacting to the traffic that comes in on those methods rather than actually having a system that helps you manage those methods. Having a system is really about becoming the master of your tools and methods rather than the slave. So let’s have a look at this in a little bit more detail and in a practical example.

When you look at a daily to-do list, most of us would relate to the fact that we find and experience a benefit by having a daily to-do list because it helps us to get rid of task clutter that we might be holding up in our mental faculties. Many of us would use different ways to do this, but probably the most common way is to write things down. People still use task management systems like you might have on Outlook. Most people feedback to me and certainly in my experience is they’re a little bit more clunky to use because they take you longer when things change. Whatever you use and how you use it, it’s obviously up to you to what you find easiest, but I generally find that the people that write things down also get the therapeutic value of actually reducing their stress levels by writing things down, downloading that task clutter that can sit in your head.

Now once you’ve written down your tasks, basically we would then go and prioritise them. Most of us understand the basic prioritisation levels. Normally they’re high, medium, or low. If you use a task management system, you’d also know that the other prioritisation element is the date. For example if meeting with Rob is a high priority, then we know that that needs to be done on the first of the 12th. Same thing with the client call, first of the 12th. That is the deadline and that is the priority. The only problem there is we’ve got five high priorities without any distinction. Let’s take this a little bit further in understanding and see to how this helps us to have laser focus.

If you take those high, medium, and low, which is a very basic principle and all different types of management applications generally are based, even if they use different language on this system, and let’s say that high stands for critical, things that have to be done today, can’t wait till tomorrow. Important being medium. If we get to it today, great, but if not, we can do it tomorrow. Low being trivial, things that we could either do when we’ve got extra time or we can put off for a few days.

The other way that we could give a distinction to this and is use the ABC type approach, and I like to use that because it’s very simple ABC. So rather than calling it high, medium, and low, as I said, there’s other ways you can label these things, ABC for the purposes of our example. Let’s have a look at that in a rejigged task list. The same task list before. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the high and the medium and the low and we’ve turned those into ABCs, but the main problem we’ve got here is we’ve got five A tasks and there’s no hierarchy or distinction between them. This is where we start to bring in another level, and this is where laser focus comes in.

So for example, let’s say the client callers our most important task out of all of those A tasks. So we would call that our A1 and then we’d go and prioritise all the other A tasks based upon their order of critical nature to us. So there we would then have an A1, an A2, an A3, an A4, an A5. Laser focus kicks in because what we need to do, even though that’s important to map all this out, really from a productivity point of view, all you are able to do well is to focus on one thing. When we have multiple things that we’re trying to focus on, it starts to degrade our productivity and our productive energy. Using an A1 strategy means that all I’ve got to do once I’ve mapped this out is just focus on that A1 task. So obviously once we’ve chosen that A1 and what that is, that’s what we focus on.

Here’s the adaptive part. If things change, like an unpredictable comes, a manager comes and says there’s a new critical task that has to be done and we have to rework everything, then all we do is we reprioritise the numbers according to now what is the new A1. If the new A1 might be to call another client because there’s been some problem with the account, then essentially that now becomes our new A1 and we reorder everything accordingly. That’s the reason why I like to write things down because this can happen several times during the day and reordering them, you might need to do on more than one occasion.

When it’s written in a computer or in a task management system, I find that a little clunky. It’s up to you if you want to spend the time doing it, but generally I need to move very quickly. So I find by just being able to scratch something out and rewire it in a spiral notebook, for example, a lot quicker than having to type it out, so that’s how I use the adaptive part. All I need to do all day is just keep focusing in on what my A1 is and it helps you to manage the rest of the task clutter and not worry about it as much because all you are required to do in any one moment is focus on that A1. If that changes, you reorder what that A1 is and then you get going with that.

Very quick strategy there that’s definitely useful to helping you order your tasks and gaining that laser focus. So hope you’ve enjoyed that and there’s been some value there and thanks for watching and bye for now.