Don Khouri Blog

How Technology Leaders Stay Focused

Posted by Don Khouri on Mon, Apr 12, 2010

Technology leaders face increased challenges. Don shares insights on how effective technology leaders manage incoming information. 

Get Everything Off Your Mind  

A popular expression claims that "all words ever spoken by human beings" could be stored in approximately 5 exabytes of data.  Today, the global monthly internet traffic is estimated to be 21 exabytes.  In case you were wondering, an exabyte equals one trillion gigabytes.  By 2020, there will be three billion people using the internet which will be 1/2 the world's population.  

how to be more productive, keys to productivity, Don Khouri Massachusetts

Technology leaders, and many other leaders, are dealing with increasing levels of complexity and rapidly growing amounts of information. 

How do technology leaders effectively master increasing levels of complexity, and stay ahead of the curve?  Capture Everything!  The only way to deal with this level of complexity is to focus on it, and the only way to do that is to capture what has our attention.  Our minds are phenomenal with respect to the amount of information they can process.  Imagine the potential if we could give our minds the opportunity to process and focus as opposed to remember.  There was a study done several years ago by American psychologist George Miller who concluded that humans can hold about seven things in our short term memory.  Anything more than that and we start to forget.

For this reason, it is critical to get those items off our mind, and into a system that has the following characteristics:

  • Trust.  We have to trust ourselves to use it.  If we don't trust it, we will try to keep everything in our mind.
  • Portable.  The system needs to have enough flexibility such that we have a way to capture things anytime anywhere, and that we can refer to it when necessary
  • Personal.  The format of the system must be personal to you, Is in a format that is personal to you; some prefer paper, some prefer electronic.

There are a number of projects going on in your work and life (David Allen, productivity expert, estimates 50-100) that are unfinished.  It is unrealistic to think that we can track all of those projects effectively in our head.  We need a way to keep these projects moving forward without having to think about them all the time.  Allen says, "there is an inverse proportion between on your mind and getting it done."

Let me bring your attention to a few things that may need to be captured in some way.

  • Everything on your mind, as we have discussed.  Take some time and write down everything that is currently in your psyche.  It is an empowering exercise.
  • What's on your desk that is not equipment, supplies or decorations.
  • The emails in your in box, read and unread
  • Voicemail that you have not acted on.

These are all items that are not in the state you intend them to be in when they are finished.  They need to be captured and tracked in some way.

My suggestion here is simple.  Review your capture tools and identify ways to improve them so that you can free your mind to focus on solutions as opposed to remembering.  When you remove remembering tasks from your mind, you automatically and effortlessly start focusing on the bigger picture items like goals, vision and purpose.  These are the things that you are really being compensated to do. 

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • What improvements can you make with your capture tools?
  • What is on your mind now that is not getting done?
  • What is on your desk that is not finished that you would like move forward?

Get more done

Join Don as he shares with you some concepts and methods to track and categorize what has your attention which facilitates your progress effortlessly. 

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Tags: productivity, leadership, technology, multi-tasking