Brain Change

Focus on life through a simplified mind

Where did my day go?

The world today is challenging.  It is a world of instant communication, instant news, instant consequences, and instant gratification.  With all the avenues of information we have we should be super productive.  So why then at the end of the day do we wonder what happened to all of our time?  Why did we not get the tasks done that we were supposed to do?

One possible answer

Attention interupts

These attention interupts may be,  friends, co-workers, phone calls, web surfing, facebooking, twitter, e-mail.  With all these avenues of information we should be super productive, right?

Wrong

There is a mental state of mind that you create when you are deeply involved with an important task.  You may call this being “in the zone”.  Being “in the zone” means you are super focused at the task at hand.  You have all been here, the rush of doing important work and knowing you accomplishing something great can be so rewarding.

The problem comes when the phone rings, or the E-mail alert in your inbox goes off, or a coworker stops by to chit-chat.  All of a sudden you experience an attention interupt.  It takes you out of your state of mind and unleashes a burden to your attention.  These type of interupts are disastrous to your productivity.  Author Timothy Ferris tells us that for a major task it can take up to 45 minutes to reset physcologically after an interuption.

As I drive deeper into the core of minimalism I am becoming aware that one of our most precious possessions is not our, money, possessions, or jobs.  It is in fact our time.  it is one of the few things in life you can never get back.  Money can be made again, possesions can be bought again, jobs can be found.  Time you can never get back.  So how do we create more time to do the things that truly matter?

1)  First thing in the morning list all the tasks and obligations that you have to complete to get a complete picture of what your day may look like. Realize that you may not be able to get through all your daily tasks and pick 2-4 of the most important items you want to get done and for the time being, forget everything else.  Focus only on these tasks and work through them completely until they are done.  Do not be tempted to add a task to your small list until all of them are completed.  Remember these should be the most important things in your life to get done.  They can be work obligations, family obligations, or other interests that you may have.  The important thing is to “focus” and complete.  When you are completely done you can add another set of 2-4 tasks or set your schedule upon completion to be able to check your e-mail, voicemail, have a meeting, or visit with co-workers.  But not before your done.  Which brings me to my next point.

2)  Quarantine E-mail to specific times of the day.  Do not check E-mail first thing in the morning to see whats happening.  It will steal your mental energy for any simple task, request, or brainfart that someone just happened to send your way.  E-mail creates a false sense of urgency in your mind that even if you just check to see whats in the inbox it will burden your mind until it is resolved.  Voicemail and Phone calls do much the same thing.   In order to focus on your most important tasks set yourself up to check E-mail, and Voicemail, at predetermined times in the day.  Turn off you E-mail alert sounder to avoid cheating when something pops into the inbox.  I would recommend starting with limiting your checking of email and voicemail no more than 3-5 times per day.  I would also advise working your inbox to empty.  While you are on the task of clearing your inbox’s be sure you are taking care of every issue.  I use the three D’s to help me through the jumble.  Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it, pretty self explanatory.   If you leave an unaswered E-mail or voicemail sitting in your inbox it may cause frustration in your mind of an unresolved issue.

3) Your phone should be shut off while you are doing your most important tasks so you do not suffer an attention interupt while you are doing your most important work.  If your job requires you to be available to answer your phone at the drop of a hat.  Remember missed calls are what voicemail is for.  Be sure to have a voicemail message that reflects the importance of the call and the importance of your work you are doing.  “Hi you have reached the cell phone of Justin Guzman I may either be driving or working on an important project, please leave a message as your call is important and I will follow up with you as soon as I can”.  See it’s not that hard, and if it truly is an important call the caller will leave a message.  If it is not that important they will most likely call the next person on their list to help them out of their “emergency”.

Limit your attention interupts by implementing  these three items to your daily lives and I promise you will be rewarded with the gift of time.  Your most important work, family, life tasks will be completed and you will be more fullfilled at the end of the day.  Please do not use your newfound free time to spend it in front of the T.V. or at the watercooler bsing with the buddies.  The point of this exercise is to create the time you need in your life to do something that matters.  Spend more time with your family, read a good book, exercise, learn a new language, there are so many productive things you can now be taking part of.

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September 24, 2010 Posted by | minimalism, productivity | , , , , | Leave a comment

Begin Small

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time…. You may have all heard this question it is a good idea to keep this in the back of your mind when you begin to de-clutter your life.  In the beggining your energy and enthusiam will keep you focused on making sweeping change, attacking each area with fervor.  Soon your energy level will drop and your enthusiasm will wane.  You will start to run out of steam before your task is complete.  This by the way happens with all habits we either try to make or break.  De-cluttering your life is entirely about changing habits.  Changing how you view possesions, changing how you clean,think,live,spend,save,study,write,work,play.  So with all this change how do you stay motivated and energized to stick with your commitments of life change?

Begin small

Take your task at hand and break it into very small managable tasks.  If your goal is to declutter your house.  In the beggining you will be a whirlwind running from room to room trying to get all the clutter out.   Use this energy for sure but when the energy wanes?  Pick a small drawer in the house and choose to clean just that one drawer out.  It wont suck your energy and it will still move you toward your goal.  If you start with small tasks eventually they start to add up.  Leading you to the completion of your task. 

Starting small also allows you to easily work on the habit you are trying to form.  It takes a month of repetitive effort in order to change a habit.  So if you can do something small everyday to help you form your habit.   Eventually you will not even think of the new habit as effort.  It will be ingrained into your phsyche.

I have been trying to figure out the direction this blog is going, and have frozen in my tracks.   In the beggining words flowed easily and ideas for posts were pouring out.   I am now stuck in my own mind trying to create the perfect post.  Using my own advice to unstick myself I posted this article.  A small blurb that  unlocked my mind and is getting  me closer to the goal I have, to build the habit of posting regularly, and help others with my writing.  It really works I started this post with only the title, Begin Small , look what happened I now have a blog post to share with you.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | minimalism, productivity | , , , , | 1 Comment

A small switch in thinking

In life where you focus your energy seems to enlarge itself.  Rhonda Byrne, from where I get my inspiration for this post, in her book, “The Secret” tells us that the universe returns to you what you put out into it.  That what you think about and invest your mental energy in the universe moves, people, places and events in order to fullfill your focus. 

Why is this “secret” important?

I will use my own experience as an example:

Imagine being buried under a mountain of debt and the only thing that you can think about is your debt.  How to get rid of it, being ashamed of it, wondering what happened to get yourself in this mess?  It can be overwhelming.  There are in fact many strategies to use and many books written on the subject of personal finace that we can talk about later for the sake of this post I would like to keep it to my own experience in trying to use “The Secret”. 

I happened to be thinking about my debt one day when I realized “what if all my focusing on my debt is only increasing situations where I may have to stay in debt”.  I made a point to change my thinking from always wondering how to get out of debt, into thinking about Saving, how to save, automated savings, what to save.  As well as income, How to generate more, what I could sell, what services I could offer.  A strange thing is beginning to happen.  I now have more cash in savings than any point in my life!  This only after a few months of changing my focus from Debt, (which I believe is a scarcity mentality) to Saving and Earning, (which is an abundance mentality).  I have been able to sell,donate several things around the house as well as earn top bonuses  and monetary awards in my carreer.  And you know what?  I believe you can as well.  Focusing on abundance remove barriers from your mind and opens new possiblitys instead of thinking “I can’t” you beging to think “How can I?”

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Personal Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who is responsible for you?

We humans, each of us individually are  ultimatley responsible for our own well being and financial future.  It is not the resposibility of our family, employer, or government to take care of us.  Each of us need to take talk up the yolk and educate ourselves daily to improve the skills that will support us in life.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | minimalism, Personal Finance | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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