Optimize your Creative Productivity with These 6 Principles of Full Focus

This column is by David Kadavy, Author, Design for Hackers

You can’t outwork your peers, but you can out-focus them. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. The more time you spend fully-focused on the task at hand — while your peers are playing Candy Crush and sharing fake news—the higher your creative productivity will be.

If GTD, by managing all of the inputs in your life, gave you “a mind like water,” consider Full Focus a funnel. Rather than give your mental energy (the water, if you will) the freedom to simply react to the moment, Full Focus concentrates that mental energy into the task at hand.

Follow these 6 principles of Full Focus:

Find your now

To be fully-focused on the task at hand, you need to arrange your work so that there is only now to do each type of work. When there is only now, you won’t procrastinate.

Divide your work by mental states

Creative productivity is about mind management, not time management. The Full Focus approach to creative work consists of six mental states. Recognize them in your work, and minimize switching.

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Follow your ebbs and flows

Your mental energy ebbs and flows throughout your day, and throughout your week. For example, you may be more creative when you first wake up. Follow these ebbs and flows to optimize creative productivity.

Habits first

When you have a habit, you don’t have to decide what to do. This saves mental energy. But, building the habit is an accomplishment in itself, so start off easy.

Practice Motivational Judo

In Judo, you use your opponent’s energy to your own advantage. Sometimes, your own ego is your opponent. Recognize where your ego holds you back, and use it to your advantage. For example, don’t let your dreams intimidate youStart small to build a cycle of victory.

Temper technology

Superman wouldn’t want to use his x-ray vision all of the time, so you shouldn’t always want access—with the tap of a finger—to all of the world’s information and people. Only use The Force when you need it. Redesign your relationship with technology, keep it at bay, and use just enough to get the job done.

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Build habits each day to follow these principles, and arrange your work according to the mental states of Full Focus. You’ll grow to concentrate your mental energy on the task at hand, create the conditions for insight, melt away procrastination, erode The Resistance, and optimize your creative productivity.

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