By the time he was 5 years old, my son Wesley, (now 13) had me figured out. I knew this the day he walked into the kitchen, looked me in the eye and asked me in his little, matter of fact voice: “Daddy, you’re a Mac nerd aren’t you?”, and all I could do was smile and say, “Yes son. Yes, I am.”
It’s true. I’m a Mac nerd and a technology junkie. I love tools and gadgets because they help me discover faster, easier ways to accomplish my goals.
This 4 part series was developed to help you stay focused. In Part 1 we Laid the Foundation. In Part 2 we Named our Opportunities. And this 3rd Part is about the tools that help us stay focused.

Getting Focused. Choosing Your Tools.

A tool is “anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose”. And the best tools never draw attention to themselves. They just do their job.

A Frequent Process

Each team member begins their time at Comprehensive Media by reading two books; Ken Segal’s, Insanely Simple and David Allen’s, Getting Things Done.
If you’ve read Getting Things Done you know that processing or as Allen calls it, “Getting “In” to Empty” is critical to lasting success. Most of us have lots of places we collect stuff, our physical inbox, our email inbox, drawers, closets, etc. The problem is too many of us just collect and never process.

A simple way to think of processing is to imagine taking each item from your pile and decide, “What’s the very next action?” That’s really all processing is. But the result is enormous.

The process of processing always clears my mind and helps me focus.

A Weekly Review

One of the most important aspects of achieving true focus is a regular weekly review. Reviews give us perspective and remind us of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

A weekly review is just a time you set aside to get things “off your mind and in your trusted system”. My weekly reviews happen on Sunday afternoon and include the following:

  • Empty Head/Mindsweep – Collect on paper
  • Review Actions List – Make sure nothing is stale (do within 2 weeks)
  • Review WF list (waiting for)
  • Review Projects List (10k level). What is the next action? Schedule time as needed.
  • Review Previous Calendar
  • Review Upcoming Calendar (few weeks or month ahead)
  • Review Notes
  • Review Someday/Maybe list
  • Review Goals

The process doesn’t take long and makes a huge difference in my focus.

A Better Means

I think of tools like that 70’s icon, Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man. “They can make us fast, stronger, better…” One tool that I’ve adopted is time chunking.
The idea is simple – just set aside a “chunk” of time to focus on a project or task. Then don’t do anything else until that “chunk” of time is complete.
My favorite time chunking tool is an iOS app called 30/30. They call it a task manager, but for me, it’s really a way to create a list of reoccurring tasks. You can see a couple screen shots from my Morning Review list as well as my current lists. I use it every day and highly recommend it.
3030_image
Other indispensable tools for me include:

TextExpander
There are a few apps that I use to take my use of keyboard shortcuts to the next level. For example, over the last year, TextExpander has saved me 11 hrs and 36 minutes.
TextExpander Screen Shot
Hazel
Hazel is an amazingly powerful automation tool that can move, resize, rename and much more. I use it to act on any file that is saved to my desktop or download folder and based on the file type and name, put that file where it needs to go. So my desktop is always clutter free. And best of all, Hazel does it’s job in the background, enabling me to do mine.
Alfred
A tool I can’t live without is Alfred with Powerpack. It’s a search tool for files that allows me to instantly open any application or file, without digging through my finder. For example, with 1 keystroke, Alfred pops up, I type, “th” (for Thesaurus) and I’m instantly taken to Thesaurus.com. I also use it to search Google and Amazon to name a few of it’s tricks. It’s impressive!

Using each of these tools has become habit, which means, I really don’t even think about them anymore, I just focus!

While tools can help us focus, alone they’re just not enough to keep us focused. So in the next post, we’ll learn why

every serious focuser uses Be, Find, and Create to Stay the Course!

 

 QUESTION: What Are Your Tools Of Choice For Getting Focused?

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