Becoming More Focused And Productive, Less Stressed And Exhausted (Breather Episode with Brad)


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By Brad Kearns. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Do you ever struggle with staying focused and being productive? Do you find it difficult to get through the day without feeling anxious and tired? There is a cost to hyperconnectivity, and this episode will help you find the best solution to this increasingly prevalent problem.

In this episode, you’ll hear some great tips for becoming more focused and productive, while decreasing stress and exhaustion. This is hugely important, as today we all face more hurdles than ever in the workplace. Consider this: a UC Irvine study revealed that the average office worker is interrupted once every 11 minutes, while another study from Loughborough University suggests that many workers check their email as often as every five minutes. Clearly, it’s a widespread problem, but this show will give you the tools to help you fix this problem yourself. We start by discussing James Hewitt’s “Cognitive Middle Gear” and how you can avoid it, the best solution for managing stress and delivering peak performance, and how to plan for “cognitive endurance.” I reference Cal Newport’s books Deep Work and A World Without Email (he calls email the most insidious interruptor and time suck/distractor) and explain why brief interruptions such as checking text messages and emails have such a massive negative impact (and how it is related to something called Attention Residue). I also discuss the psychological pain that comes from not being accessible, the real meaning of busyness, and the studies that have shown having a culture of connectivity actually ruins productivity.

Another book I recommend and mention during the show is Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, which draws some parallels between attention and happiness, and was written by Winifred Gallagher, who brilliantly says who you are is the sum of what you focus on. This show also emphasizes the importance of scheduling out your time every day, protecting your time, having distinct shut down hours, and why you should never wait around for inspiration.


Let’s look at some ways to become more productive and focused. [01:27]

Just being an excellent athlete or corporate leader doesn't necessarily mean anything except that you're very competent in your narrow level of focus. [02:19]

We have tremendous potential to excel in one area of our life and then apply those peak performance attribute, but the potential to be distracted is ever present. [04:58]

It’s a good idea to get organized enough to establish a specific time to go deep with focus and get things done. [09:15]

Attention residue is where you lose a tiny bit of wattage of cognitive power every time you divert and then return to the original important task. [10:54]

Busyness is a very effective proxy for productivity. [16:43]

You are the sum of what you focus on. Be specific. Write down your goals. [20:10]

It’s okay to be annoying by being unresponsive. Keep track of your accomplishments. [23:18]

Keeping track of your goals, like diet and exercise, gives more structure. [27:29]

Protect your time to allow space for creativity. Brain needs down time. [28:17]

Try to schedule two 90 minutes focus times per day. Then takes breaks. [33:25]

Habitual checking on missed calls and messages can become addictive behavior pattern. [37:52]

As long as you prioritize that deep work, you'll have more freedom to kind of relax during the other hours of the workday. [42:09]

You can learn to piggyback new habits onto habits you already have. [44:49]


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