Focus and Lists

The last time my coach and I met, we talked about coping strategies for being effective, when facing an information overload world.
I thought about it a moment, and thought I had two really good ways of dealing with it. These are Focus and Lists.
I discovered lists many years ago. Lists on small scraps of paper, lists in my Palm memo application, lists on post-its, lists on pads of paper.
I created lists to help me remember what to do next, because I can’t remember everything. The amount of things we need to do day to day is staggering. Some of it you can blow off, but a lot of things you can’t. Even as I try to simplify my life, my life gets still more complex due to everything that is going on.
So I write everything down and I have gotten to LOVE crossing things off my list. It’s become the new drug for me. I do something, I cross it off. WOW. What a high. I do more, I cross out more. More hits. COOL.
Lists have really become my way of not forgetting things and to get lots of things done instead of wasting time and worrying about forgetting something.
My other technique is practicing FOCUS.
How ineffective we are at attempting multi-tasking! I was in severe multi-tasking mode as an exec at Yahoo. But you know what, even though I could multi-task on some types of things, I knew that I could never be on critical path for some long term project. They’d be waiting forever for me to finish something.
But now, I have found that focusing bursts of time on something means I can get a lot done. I have done 4 hour marathon sessions at Starbucks to write a product specification. I also now just allocate time to do things in my calendar. During that time, I do NOTHING else until I get that original thing done. That’s work, practicing piano, or training – it doesn’t matter. I FOCUS on that one thing and get it done, and then move on.
For me, these two techniques have helped sharpen my ability to get things done and to really feel good about it!