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At Northwest Professional Services, a certain amount of time in my schedule is spent completing tasks that are somewhat repetitive in nature. This doesn't necessarily mean they are boring or unimportant. Sometimes they can be critical tasks like drawing diagrams and writing repair scopes for insurance claims or simple data entry which both require less critical thinking but can still take a decent amount of time to hit your stride and get in the zone. I'd like to share a few tips that I use to help keep me focused and hit that "flow state" faster and stay there longer to increase productivity.
1. Continuous repeat of a song through headphones
Sound like torture? Dont knock it until you give it a chance! I find it's amazing how much this little trick helps me to lock into a cadence and stay there. A couple tracks that I can always count on to set the tone are "Award Tour" by A Tribe Called Quest and "Blue Bossavnova" by Bossanova.
2. The Pomodoro Technique
Essentially, it's a method of time blocking in which distractions are ruthlessly eliminated for 25 minute blocks, separated with short breaks. Sounds simple right? You might be shocked at how fundamentally difficult it is to rearrange your environment to eliminate the distractions we've become so good at inviting into our workflow. 25 minutes of pure undivided attention can feel like a lifetime when properly executed. SPOILER ALERT: You and your squirrel brain are the worst offenders when it comes to attention sabotage. For more info visit www.pomodotechnique.com.
3. Automate and replicate
Obviously, this wont work for everything but even if you can manage to find a way to cut your required input down by just 10%, the math plays out to your benefit over the long run... even if it takes you an extra 20 minutes to come up with the initial fix. For instance, if there are certain email responses that you re-craft every time the same question comes up, setup a template response and save it as a draft so the work is cut down to quick and simple touches to personalize it next time. If it comes up way too often, add it the "Frequently Asked Questions" page on your website and direct traffic accordingly. Congrats... you just bought back a weekend in reclaimed time over the course of the next 5 years.
Thanks for your time. I really mean that! I
know exactly how valuable it is.
Chief of Operations
Northwest Professional Services
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