KiMBALL PETERSON

AUTHOR - LIFE HACKER- CREATIVITY EXPLORER

A Powerful Focusing Question which can boost your productivity

Can asking yourself a simple question several times a day substantially boost your productivity?

Yes, absolutely. If done regularly and acted on, using the focusing question will produce laser intention on achieving high level tasks and reinforces improved impulse control.

Before we get to the actual question and how to use it, you need to have done some preliminary work fundamental to any time management system:

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  • At the 60,000 foot level, you've done some soul searching about your vision for your life and designed your goals and bucket list accordingly. Essentially you've created a map of where you want to go. And most importantly, you're actually serious about the goals and willing to complete the work necessary to achieve them. On a more mundane tactical level, you've determined what you need to do to make the rest of your life function at a high level and have set the relevant goals.
  • You've then taken your goals and determined the needed tasks and milestones to produce the results you're looking forward.
  • You're using some sort of formalized planning system/calendar with uninterrupted blocks of time scheduled for the most important tasks in priority order.

Having done the preliminary work, you're now ready to use the simple focusing question:

"What is the best use of my time right now?"

What does this question do for you?

  • It instantly brings you back to the present moment.
  • It stops multitasking because that's never the best use of your time.
  • It forces you to determine where you are with respect to the most important goals and tasks you've set and what the next step is.
  • It serves as an action inducer if you get in the habit of executing the 'best use' time management choice every time you ask yourself the question. The habit forms if you use the 'best use' answer most of the time. Your energy is depleted when you take the opposite course.

How do I personally use it?

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I use a Gymboss interval timer which I set on a 30 minute repeating countdown. It vibrates at the end of each timing cycle, and I immediately ask myself the question no matter what I'm doing. It's an eye opener since I often find I'm off task or multi-tasking. When feasible I then shift my attention to the most important task.

As I mull over my intention to act or not, I often expand the question:

FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS BEFORE DOING ANYTHING

1.      What is the best use of my time right now?

2.      What is the best decision I can make right now that is in alignment with my vision?

3.      Does this satisfy the "one thing" priority goal?

4.      Does this push my comfort zone and meet my learning goals?

5.      Does this fit today's priority list?

6.      Does this lead to flow?

Being human, I often ignore the right answer to the question and do something else that's not optimal. But at least my awareness is raised and I'm more likely to get to the 'best use of my time' task sooner than later.

Bottom line: Set your goals. List your tasks. Get an interval timer and set it to 30 minute intervals. When it vibrates, ask yourself the question. You might find your productivity increasing substantially over time as you learn to execute the strategy as an ingrained habit.