We own a number of rental properties and almost always have at least one major rehab. So you would think I’m good at resource planning now.
But at least once a day I realize that a tool I need is somewhere else. Door jamb cutter? Elsewhere. Pex Press Tool? In a different location. Thinset mix still in the garage instead of the truck? That was Wednesday.
Lack of intelligence is not the problem. (Okay, maybe.) And I try to plan ahead. So why am I struggling?
Research shows that the average person’s mind – and I am definitely average – spends about fifty percent of its time “wandering.” Thinking about the past. Trying to predict the future. Floating from distraction to distraction.
That is normal; what psychologists call “attention cycling” not only helps us keep safe — being too hyper-focused on a conversation and you might not notice a stop sign — but also helps us learn from the past and plan for the future. future.
But when your attention circulates so fast that you enter a state that cognitive neuroscientist Dr. When Amishi Jha calls it “blurred autopilot mode,” you don’t really pay attention. Your mind wanders from task to task, from distraction to distraction, from the future to the past…
And you leave the thinset mix in the garage.
The solution is to be more aware.
Unfortunately I am not a fan of ‘mindfulness’. Sounds a bit too psychological. A little too new agey. A little too… something. (That says more about me—and not in a good way—than the value of mindfulness.)
What I need to do, when I’m done writing for today and on my way to work on a house, is get into a rhythm and focus.
That’s where Jha’s book, Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day, provides an answer. Jha recommends using the STOP method, which is triggered by normal daily cues, to remind yourself to be aware of the present.
For example, suppose you have to stop at a red light.
S: Physically stopped? Mentally stop and… T: Take a deep breath. Then… O: Pay attention. Concentrate on what is happening around you, and more importantly, within you. What you think about. What do you want to think about. In other words, reset. Then… P: Go on and get on with your day.
That’s great for broader mindfulness. It never hurts to tell yourself to take a breath and slow down.
Research agrees. Improved mindfulness can improve resilience, help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve memory and decision-making skills.
Still, I needed something more specific, so my directions are more tactical.
When I’m about to open the truck door, I pause and take about ten seconds. I think about what I’m going to do. I think about what tools and supplies I need. I’m doing a quick mental inventory.
I do the same when I buy stuff. Instead of grabbing the last item and automatically rushing to checkout, I stop and pause for at least ten seconds. I check my list. I think about what I’m going to do in the next few days. I imagine what I need and what I might need.
I’m trying to put all distractions aside and — although it sounds a bit meta — think about resource planning. I remind myself that the point is not to rush through my mental assessment and mentally rush to what comes next. It’s about me concentrating and thinking and doing that one thing the best I can.
Granted, that hasn’t made me the Elon Musk of resource planning yet. There’s nothing like taking notes on the spot and making checklists. (To paraphrase Getting Things Done author David Allen: Your mind is about having ideas, not holding them.)
But taking a few moments to pause, think, and focus has made a huge difference.
And it can be for you. Maybe before you pick up the phone to contact a prospect, you decide to pause and think about what they need… and not just how desperately you need to make a sale. your car before going to work to think about the kind of leader you want to be. Perhaps you decide to stop at the door of your house and think about the kind of person you want to be with your loved ones.
Pick a few everyday cues and use them to give a few moments of attention to what really matters.
Sure, it may seem like you’re wasting precious time on an already busy day, but you’ll more than get that time back with improved effectiveness and efficiency.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even be able to stop saying your own version of, “I swear every time I need tools…it’s at the wrong house.”
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.
This post How taking frequent 10-second breaks can make you more focused, effective and productive
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