Focus To Evolve

Delivering calm, deliberate and authentic productivity

Focus to Evolve, LLC services individuals and organizations in the evolution from ‘seat of pants’ activity standards to neat, clean and effective personal and group operations and productivity with unique training and consultation options to clearly defined priorities, business processes, roles, targets and technologies to quickly enable desired future state.

Roosevelt always said that he wasn’t busy; just focused. When it’s time to go to the next level, you have to eventually feel the truth in this statement. You must also be confident when you say this to people who simply don’t yet understand how much power comes with saying no to most things, and yes to the few things deliberatly chosen. You will piss people off. You will be looked down upon by your boss. You will have people scratching their heads all around you. But, you’ll be living the life that you choose and the happiness and contentment that comes with that trumps all artificial social pressure that you’ll have to fight through. Live Deliberately; say ‘no’ a lot more and yes a lot more carefully.

PS - don’t leave people hanging. Tell them no. It’s weak and inconsiderate to not respond. Take a look at this short video: A good idea for smart people

Aldous Huxley once wrote that humans have an insatiable appetite for distraction. Yes, this is true; we are genetically wired to be curious – we do look at every ping, ding and flash that catches our attention. We just have to dig in! And thank God for that - It’s why we humans are apex on the food chain (unless it’s true what Southpark said about cows).

The problem is, now we’ve invented these devices with software that constantly ping and ding… forcing us (or so we falsely believe) to multitask – jump from thing to thing to thing throughout a day almost without our own consent.

Here’s the problem. Multitasking requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

The PFC is also responsible for willpower, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check.

Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing its ability to hold strong willpower and keep fear/anxiety at bay (the feeling of being overwhelmed).

By the way, what we typically refer to as “multitasking” is not multitasking. Very few humans can actually churn two or more thought processes in their PFC simultaneously. If you are in that 1% minority, chances are you’ve already been tapped on the shoulder to become a fighter pilot – the government heavily recruits these rare people for this role. The other 99% (me included) are really just jumping from thought process to thought process which places heavy taxes on a clearly finite resource of cognitive energy (regardless of how many cups of Starbucks you chug). This tax is formally called ‘cognitive switch tax’. Google it. Psychologists have a lot of bad bad things to say about it (and so should company owners who care about productivity and anyone else with interest to live a highly deliberate and productive life).

So think of it this way… “Multitasking”, physical pain, emotional pain, busy-life times, crowded days, and clutter in general of any kind all diminish one’s ability for maintaining willpower. The more you have going on at the same time, the less your willpower.

Calm and single-point focus on one item at a time (task/project/problem) literally increases your willpower. Why not take advantage of that?

Turn off the pings, dings, reminders and hide the incessant email inbox when you work.

Calmly focus on one thing at a time to get more done; it works. And the best part is, it’s a choice.

Outlook Optimization

Do you touch any business tool more than Microsoft Outlook? Millions of people use Outlook every hour of every working day. Of those millions, what percentage are using it as a personal productivity tool, rather than just an email and calendar system? How about you?

If you are working out of your inbox all day long, then you are inflicting devastating damage on your ability to ‘get things done’. Your work type, role and seniority do not matter. I’ve coached c-suite executives of global 500 organizations, to office clerks and everything in between all around the world. The principle is the same throughout; people simply aren’t using Microsoft Outlook as it was designed to be used.

After having worked extensively for 15 years in corporate/enterprise environments throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, It has become a personal mission of mine to inform people about the damage Outlook can inflict when not used as it was designed to be used by Bill Gates and his team. It effects the individual and therefore the team and therefore the organization in whole. The blizzard is the fault of every snowflake.

I currently consult organizations on business processes and proper utilization of IT to get practical and measurable business results (in terms of dollars, time and efficiency). Microsoft Outlook is always an easy entry point because everyone has hundreds of emails in their inbox which is the first indicator of misuse of the tool. Like holding a steak knife by the wrong end.

How did you learn to use Microsoft Outlook? Was it from your first manager, the person sitting in the cubicle next to you at your first job, or a friend/acquaintance early in your career? My point is, the chances are, you were taught early on how to use Outlook by an individual who was entirely missing the boat. Yup, they knew how to use email and calendar and how to turn colors on and create alerts and cool sounds, but the core value of the tool was not taught. And now your inbox has more than 20 unread emails and 347 read and yet-to-be-processed emails sitting there; most of which will be ignored until time renders them irrelevant.

There is a better way; and it's simpler than you'd think. If you are an owner of a company who pays for licenses of MS Outlook and your team is not using the tool properly (as nearly everyone isn’t), there is massive potential for an instant productivity boost.

The best part is, the fix that I teach is functionally and technically simple. I do not believe in all the bells and whistles that are offered in the Microsoft Outlook tool that all the online Outlook courses show you. Colors, sounds, configurations, etc., although pretty and entertaining, they are nothing but unnecessary distractions. If you believe otherwise, then you have a limiting belief and that belief is damaging your productivity.

Bottom line, once I personally forged the habits of proper Outlook usage, I felt like I was cheating. Work started to feel simple no matter intensity of incoming requests and fires. I smiled and walked slowly to the drinking fountain observing all the franticness (is that a word?) around me. Once (before I was running my own little company), I was asked by a vice president of HR of a multi-billion dollar company: “Jason, do you have enough work? It does not seem like it”. I smiled and said “Yes I do. Have a nice day”.

Calm, deliberate focus enabled by using Outlook as it was designed to be used changed my life; It can yours too.

Feel free to reach out to learn more about this subject: jason@focustoevolve.com

If you ask anyone who has ever worked with me, "what is Jason really good at doing". 9 out of 10 would say something similar to: "getting things done - he's highly productive". I don't know what the other one would say; I'm not interested.

I've done this by mastering the art of designing my environments so my intentions and goals can be realized without distraction. In addition, I have learned how to use productivity tools which give me a clear and measurable competitive advantage.

This has gotten me quite far in my professional and personal life. But now I want to go to another level; one that will move my noble goal forward and impact larger pictures.

My next study is Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I've studied EQ lightly for about 5 years having watched the TED talks and read the blogs on the subject. But to take it to the next level, I have recently hired a personal EQ coach. In just two months, I can already see a fundamental shift in the way I see and know myself, the world, my relationships, my work, and what impact I am capable of delivering.

People often ask me what Emotional Intelligence is and why bother with it. I have never been able to articulate such a massive concept succinctly. If I'm forced to describe what developing Emotional Intelligence does for a person, I would currently say, "It allows you to become you for the first time as an adult". Please watch this two minute video if you are curious what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoAFdxkyVR8

I can't see into the future, but my gut is telling me that I'm in for a very interesting and meaningful journey as I mix my study of productivity habits and ways of being with the pursuit of developing my Emotional Intelligence.

If you are interested in a similar journey of your own, I can help. Send inquiries to jason@focustoevolve.com