“Anyone can do two things at once.  What takes discipline is doing one thing at once.”

I can’t remember where that quote came from, but I often remember it when things get busy. One of the best ways to be incredibly productive is to put focused work into the project at hand – big or small – until you complete it or come to a pre-determined stopping point. Switching from task to task will cause a person to come to the end of the day wondering what he or she accomplished. Deadlines will slip by, emails will remain half composed and items on your to-do list will be incomplete.

One small accomplishment after the next is what really makes the day productive. How do we stay focused on one thing at a time? Here are thoughts:

1) Review 

Make a discipline of reviewing your day.  You will begin to discover how much you really get done when you are focused on each task.  Review your week and think about what has been accomplished.

2) Automate

What automation can you put in place to avoid dealing with certain tasks? I typically set up emails to send out at a certain time. I do the same with Twitter, Facebook and these blog posts. It takes time upfront to learn the automation techniques that will work for you, but it’s worth it in the long run.

3) Delegate

What things can you hand off to others around you? In the past, I wondered who I would delegate to when it’s just me working on this stuff. Recently I delegated a project to someone I’ve never met through the freelance service, In recent months I have worked with with a great virtual assistant for our ministry through Upwork. Though we’ve never met, she has helped take tasks like editing our podcast off my plate. Even this blog post is edited by someone who I have known a long time. She has graciously partnered with me to help make these posts available to you and every reader. I’m able to focus more because of these partners in ministry.

4) Schedule Less

Don’t fill up your schedule to the max. Leave a percentage of time to take care of the unexpected. As you focus on one task at a time with a focused approach, you will wind up with more time in the long run. When your day is only 70-80% scheduled, you’re free to deal with important things as they come up.

5) Be Efficient

At times, you can “kill two birds with one stone.” Find ways to double up and make mundane tasks more beneficial. Listen to audiobooks while running errands or podcasts while mowing the lawn. Batch errands, have walking meetings, and much more. Doubling up when appropriate can bring about more time to focus on the main agenda for the day.

6) Keep Good Notes

Have you ever forgotten where you left off, what someone said, or the start time? Taking good notes helps you remember and engage more fully in conversations and meetings. Taking notes will raise your level of leadership as you hold team members accountable, keep track of details, and stay sharper during conversations. When you attend meetings, take notes on what others are saying and avoid distractions that derail your leadership and teamwork (checking email and texting can wait). If you’re interested in more on this, Michael Hyatt has a great post on the Recovering the Art of Note Taking.

7) Focus on the One Priority

What’s the one priority you must finish today? Focusing on that first is a good way to start your day. If you’re in the habit of running from here to there with no time to breathe, decide to make tomorrow different.  Plan on a specific project or task and the pre-determined time block in which you will complete it. Once you finish that task, you can carry on running from here to there. You will be pleasantly surprised at how motivating and addicting focusing on one project can be.

Are you completely finished with reading this post? Great job focusing. Here are a few others you may enjoy.

Five Ministry Time Savers 

Consequences of Un-ordered Time 

Five Reasons to Develop a Compulsion for Closure

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5

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