Hyperfocus: How to Actually Get Stuff Done

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Sorry for posting this a few days late. I usually try to get a new blog post up on Tuesdays, but I was a bit busy getting down and dirty with Engineering the Alpha which I must say is the best thing to happen for guys since the ousting of double-popped collars and the release of any movie with the Rock, ever.

It’s truly worth a read. I’m warning you though, before you read, prepare to forget everything you knew about fitness. There’s a lot of false information in the world. Roman and Born did a terrific job setting everything straight, but you have to change your mindset before you reject all the new stuff they throw at you.

You’ve been warned.

I also had an article go up on Men’s Fitness recently concerning Crossfit which is always a fun topic of conversation. Believe it or not, Crossfit isn’t all bad. I worked with Micah Macbeth over at Crossfit 215 to highlight some exercises that should be in your program whether you’re banging out Cindy in the parking lot or just trying to build some strength (it’s not my fault they named their WODs after females).

[Complete side note: I’m headed to the Fitness Summit in Kansas City next week, which reminds me of the funniest line I’ve ever heard in a conference presentation: “I had five guys in the parking lot dressed up in skirts banging out Cindy in the snow.” <— insert snorting laughter from the audience here]

Back to the topic at hand: hyperfocus.

Between Facebook, Twitter, the reemergence of MySpace, and those few individuals on Tumblr, it’s amazing that anyone can get anything done. We’re constantly bombarded with tweets, texts, notifications, and pop-ups that make sure we don’t miss a single piece of action.

Recently, I’ve made some changes to my own work protocol that have resulted in a marked increase in productivity (measured by how much more free time I have with the same workload). I’m able to finish tasks faster while still maintaining quality work. The end result: more time for a glass of wine and a good book at night.

Here are my tips. Please read them through but understand that I am by no means the Obi Wan of productivity.

So, I need your help in the comment section. Light it up with your favorite time saving tips.

1. For the love of God, turn off your notifications.

The worst thing that can possibly happen while you’re cranking out work is for a Facebook notification to appear in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

What did Tommy possibly say on your wall? Who cares? I guarantee you it will still be there when you get done with your current work spree (more on that below). Plus, I promise that Facebook won’t let you forget about it. They like you to be engaged over there.

While you’re working, turn off all of the notifications on your computer and on your phone (better yet, put your phone on silent and face down).

2. Set a timer.

You’ll work better when you time yourself – I’ll guarantee it. There’s something about a clock counting down in the corner of your screen that indicates when it’s time for a break that keeps you motivated to churn out work. It’s like knowing exactly how much longer you have to go on a trip.

It just works.

Lately, I’ve been setting a timer for 30 minutes and churning out work before taking a five minute break. If you’re seated all day, use this break to move around. I know that I can always crank out work for 30 minutes uninterrupted without taking a break of any kind because I know that a trip outside to enjoy the sunshine (or a quick check of Facebook is less than a half an hour away). I work well with 30 minute increments, but feel free to explore longer options if necessary. Occasionally, I’ll crank it up to an hour or an hour and a half and just bust through e-mails.

At the recommendation of JC Deen, I’ve been using SelfControl to both time my work bouts, but also block all of the temptations from social media. You can set specific URL’s that you want to block, and you won’t be able to visit them at all – not even if you delete the application. Voodoo magic at it’s finest.

3. Ask someone else to hold you accountable.

I’m a huge fan of getting some work done early in the morning. I feel more productive plus I’m able to relax a bit more at night. One slight problem – I have a habit of hitting the snooze button. It really doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep I get, sometimes it can be hard to get me going in the morning.

So, I attempted to enlist a few friends of mine into holding me accountable. Unfortunately, a 4AM wake-up time to give me a quick ring wasn’t that enticing. But, there’s one person that was extremely motivated to get me up – my fiancee. Putting it nicely, I gave her permission to give me the boot out of bed when my alarm went off the first time rather than letting me snooze it 5-6 times.

[Note: If you’re using an Android phone, download this little nifty alarm clock that doesn’t shut off until you take a certain amount of steps. Think you can just shake it to shut it up? Think again. It restarts itself all the way back at zero.]

4. Disconnect your e-mail.

If you’re like me and get your rocks off having all of your technology pieces synced across multiple devices, you probably have your e-mail on your phone, tablet, watch, fridge, and computer. It’s really tough to get anything done – including having fun – when you’re constantly watching your inbox overflow.

It seems simple, but it’s so hard to do – turn off your e-mail. Yes, you will survive. Scout’s honor.

Those are my four tips. What have you been doing recently to boost productivity? Let’s hear the tips in the comments.

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