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5 Steps for Improved Executive Productivity and Flow

By Dr. Geri Markel On 

Developing Focus

How productive are you when you try to focus? For some executives, good focus and productivity don’t happen often enough. Even high-achieving leaders and professionals may feel their ability to focus is not what they would like it to be. Most of us are after flow or positive hyper focus.

Flow, described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmlhalyl, enables you to enjoy your work and perform at the peak of your potential. Research shows people working in a state of flow are five times more productive than they’d otherwise be.

Some high achieving persons focus, or hyper focus to complete a task, but it is not a positive experience. They muster the required attention energy only when under pressure, frequently only after they have procrastinated to start a difficult or boring task. The result may be acceptable, even great, but the emotional costs are high and the experience is filled with frustration. Their professional lives are a series of ups and downs and all-nighters.

Two important questions are:

  • How to successfully enjoy sufficient focus to start on time, stay on track, and complete your projects and papers?
  • How often do you feel you are working at the peak of your potential?

Review the times during which you have been most focused and productive with questions like:

  • What type of task was it?
  • How long did it take?
  • When and where were you?
  • Were you satisfied with the result? If so, keep up the great work.

However, if you yearn for more feelings of flow, here are five key steps:

  1. Stop the procrastination. One way to do this is to ensure you know the parameters of the task. Are there models or sufficient instructions? Do you have the resources you need?
  2. Create a positive atmosphere in a non-distracting, interruption-free location.
  3. Develop a warm-up period during which you can de-stress. For example, stretch or listen to music for a few minutes.
  4. Work for brief time periods. For example, work for about 30 minutes at a time with five-minute breaks. Use an app, Time Tracker, to track the time.
  5. Monitor and motivate. Check off each small segment of work as it is completed, then smile and say, “Good job. A little bit can go a long way.”

The goal is to create a routine to enhance your focus and productivity. You’ll get more done and, hopefully, feel the flow and satisfaction of a job well done.


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