Read Time: 5 minutes and 21 seconds.
The clock strikes 3pm, as you nervously stare at the empty document in front of you. The deadline for your project is in 2 hours and you’ve barely made a start. After 3 weeks of doing everything possible to avoid D-Day, it’s finally arrived and you’re in a tight pinch.
A hand clasps you on the shoulder, as your boss walks in and asks how the project is looking for close-of-business. Anxiously, you reassure him and mention how you’ll have it sent across within the hour. Sweating profusely now, he wishes you a good evening and you’re left with a feeling of intense desperation.
Suddenly, you decide you’re going to give it your best shot. After all, 2 hours might be enough to get some of the job done. You navigate to Spotify to find some music to help you and stumble upon, “Focus Beats”. Sticking your earphones in, you begin to work like a maniac, pulling together information and filling up the document with ease.
At 4:55pm, the job is completely done. You sit back, leaning back in your chair with shock and awe at the fact that you’ve met your deadline. Feeling an intense feeling of pride and relief, you email over the document and pack up your desk for the day.
Are you surprised by this outcome?
In this edition of The Path Toward Purpose we’re going to explore The Focused Approach: How-To Get More Done In Less Time - and why we find ourselves able to complete superhuman feats when under pressure.
Let’s get into it…
The Foundations of Deep, Focused Work
Your brain has the extraordinary capacity to achieve unimaginable feats of greatness within a short span of time.
All it needs is a little incentive to get the motor running. Focus is the fundamental foundation required to achieve any goal in life, and without learning how to harness it, you’re not going to get very far toward your aspirations.
Deep, focused work comes from being able to produce a vast amount of detailed, concise work within a period of time. Either it can be undefined, or it can have a deadline.
For those that have learned to harness the power of focus at will, they can sit and work all day, everyday, not requiring a defined deadline. Yet, for beginners, it’s very important to use specific strategies to get our minds into this state of deep work, to produce extraordinary results.
The Mental Framework
Nothing hurts quite like having a deadline, and ignoring it for weeks until it’s right around the corner.
The human brain has a funny tendency to distract itself, until the need is urgent and suddenly, work is produced at a frantic, yet high quality pace. It’s quite remarkable.
Our brains operate on a principle of pressure that can be defined as either Low Tolerance Frustration (LTF) or High Tolerance Frustration (HTF).
We have the ability to work ourselves into either category with practice, yet for the most part, we all begin in the LTF category. To transition into the HTF category requires mindset work and concentration, where we can turn pressure into a source of power.
We can use this concept to trick our brains into performing a large quantity of work, in a short amount of time. Through inducing false pressure, we can extract the same result from ourselves, without having the real pressure of a deadline upon our shoulders.
How-To Apply This
To induce the false pressure I mentioned above, you’ve got to use a handy tool known as Google Calendar (you can also use your favourite calendar tool).
Step 1. Assess Your Priorities
What needs to be completed the most urgently at this point in time?
There’s going to be a lot of to-do’s which are going to pop-up, but for the most part, you’re likely to have 3 burning things that are top of mind, that absolutely need to get done. These are your priorities - list them down.
Step 2. Timebox Your Calendar
Here’s how you do it. Let’s say that your 3 priorities are the following:
1. Gym Workout
2. Work Project
3. Personal Development Upskilling
Here’s an example of how you’d timebox them into a regular day.
Note: Your schedule will most likely differ, so you can adjust it accordingly.
Let’s break down what we have here.
1. In Blue, are your non-negotiables. Regardless of your day, you must complete these for your life to run smoothly.
2. In Green, are your breaks. These are completely up to you, but I’d recommend scheduling at least 2 significant breaks per day, to make sure that you don’t burn out.
3. In Red, are your prioritized goals. Notice how these are specifically timeboxed to a very exact time.
Step 3. Find Your Focus
During your day, when you reach the Red timeboxes, it’s important to note that this is similar to a meeting. It's a time that you’ve bought for yourself, where no one can disturb you. Think of it as a date with yourself to accomplish your goals.
It’s important to cut off all distractions during this time. Turn off your phone, close your inbox, put your earphones in, politely tell people that you’re busy. Go all in and concentrate on achieving a single objective.
Try not to complete everything at once, but instead, focus on singular components at a time that build into your overall goal.
🚀 Next Steps
Ultimately, the purpose of timeboxing is to trick your brain into operating under pressure to produce excellent results. For this to work, it’s important to treat it as an actual deadline, by investing yourself into sticking to your plan.
Flexibility is key, sometimes, your plan will need to change, but overall, try to be consistent. Because only through consistency, can you tame your brain to work for you, rather than you for it. As time passes, distractions will become meaningless as you’ll have learned the art of focus. This is priceless.
Next time, I’m going to discuss a common struggle I’ve heard from many of my clients. We're going to deep dive into the Fear of Judgment and how it might be holding you back from living the life you desire. I can’t wait to share it with you!