Nowadays, it is amazingly easy to gather information about any kind of topic by using modern tools such as the internet, the telephone or by watching a DVD. Furthermore, television helps us to stay informed about recent trends/events and what is happening in our country and the whole wide world. This is an amazing development when considering that people had to go to libraries or wait for the newest newspaper to gather information, half a decade ago. Modern technology, as good as it may be, often confuses people as they feel overwhelmed by the flood of information that they have to deal with day after day. This sensory overload leads to stress and it also prevents us from doing the things we need to get done (keyword: procrastination). A minimalistic approach can help us to deal with the flood of information and helps us to focus on what is really important in our lives: doing what needs to be done and ignoring what distracts us. Minimalism can help us to focus on the important. Simplicity allows us to direct our focus towards the things we want to do without getting procrastinated.
The positive effect of simplicity is that it allows us to increase the quality of our work, it helps us to gather the information we need and it will enable us to spend our time more consciously, focused on what is important for us. In fact: simplicity allows you to recapture time that was spent unproductively; time that was wasted and led only to distraction.
How to focus on what is really important in life:
1. Multitasking is overrated.
Multitasking (= the performance of more than one task at the same time) is the main reason for the flood of information we are confronted with. Multitasking is not only being applied by professionals to increase their productivity but also by lots of us in our private life, without even noticing it. We talk to a friend on the phone while watching our favorite season on TV and try to get our housework done. The result of multitasking is that we cannot focus on one task after another, which decreases the quality of what we do. Multitasking will not help us to focus on what is important as it solely distracts us from it. You can try to avoid doing multiple tasks at the same time by scheduling your most important tasks of the day. Execute these tasks one after another with the attempt to focus solely on these tasks, without getting distracted by unimportant things. You will see that the quality of your work will start to increase once you focus on your scheduled (and most important) tasks and projects per day.
2. Identify what is essential in your life…
… and find out what is really important to you. Make a list where you write down what kind of aspects of your life are important to you and should, therefore, deserve your attention, focus and investment of time. Do not limit yourself to important aspects of your life, but also try to include very (!) important tasks that you want to get done in the next years, important goals that you want to achieve, hobbies and spare time activities that fulfill you and even whole areas of your life that are important to you (career, personal development, personal growth, etc.). Writing down what aspects of your life are most important to you helps you to focus on your priorities.
3. Identify what does not deserve your attention.
Into this category, you can write down everything that distracts you and all the activities that just waste your precious time. Ask yourself the question: “What is wasting my time?” and “How can I make use of my time?” It can be amazingly powerful to know what is important to you in your life, but it is even more important to consciously know what activities steal your time. Some people don´t even notice that they spend a huge percentage of their leisure time with random activities that were chosen by habit, without even scrutinizing this behavior.
4. Good habits vs. Bad habits.
Every one of us has habits; some of them might be helpful whereas others are not. I for myself discovered that I had the habit of turning on the TV or logging into the internet as soon as I started to feel bored, which I found not really great. I don´t mind watching TV or surfing on the internet if done with a purpose, but at that time I only did these things to get rid of my boredom. Not a really good habit at all, especially as it was completely unfocused and without any kind of ulterior motive. It is really important to discover these habits, as we mostly perform them repeatedly and without scrutinizing them.
5. Eliminate distractions and random activities
A) When you discover activities, habits, and hobbies that steal your time and are not important in your life you should actively try to stop performing these. Try to redirect your focus from all these unimportant activities towards those things that are important to you. Instead of turning on the TV once you feel bored you could also spend your time with the things that are really important for you, for example, your friends and family.
B) Focusing on what is really important in life can be really tough, especially when you get distracted continuously. These distractions range from TV, the internet, telephone and radio up to loud and hectic environments. It is important that you discover these distractions and make preparations to avoid getting distracted by any means. You might consider some distractions as helpful, such as the radio or the internet, but it is not helping you to stay focused.
6. Power sessions
A power session is a set period of time in which you only focus on a given task or project. These sessions help you to get a lot of things done without getting interrupted (for more information see: Productivity Improvement). Power sessions are wonderful as they help you to improve your productivity but also enable you to focus on the tasks that are important and need to be done.
7. The keyword is “NO”
In our daily life, we come across of a lot of temptations that distract us from what is really important. These temptations and distractions can be basically everything from TV, the internet and the radio up to tasks and requests for help. Sometimes we have to say no to these upcoming things, especially when we need to be focused on specific tasks. We cannot always help everyone, execute every task and plan every project that comes our way, which is simply not possible. Simplicity is the key, as it helps you to have a manageable amount of tasks and projects that you can handle with all your attention!
8. Set priorities
People tend to only spend a small fraction of their time with their priorities, as the majority of their time is spent for their job or distractions such as television. Set yourself priorities and spend your time accordingly to these priorities. If watching television is at the bottom of your priority list you should not spend the vast majority of your spare time watching TV.
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