When you think about your ability to focus, what comes to mind?

Maybe you check your email 500x times a day. Or maybe you check Facebook over and over again. Maybe you overschedule yourself or say yes to things that will interfere with your ability to accomplish what you already have on your plate.

You’ve probably read hundreds of tips for being productive like waking up early, exercising, and putting your phone on silent….the thing is, you may find yourself trying these for a day or two and then reverting back to the same old habits. The reason why is because they don’t necessarily relate to your specific life or personal strengths.

That’s why productivity comes down to self-awareness.

The power of self-awareness is that you already know yourself really well; you just have to apply that knowledge in the right way.

So here’s how.

Figure out your strengths and your weaknesses when it comes to productivity.

Do you get in the zone early in the morning, in the afternoon or late at night?

Do you do really well under pressure or when you have plenty of time?

Do you rock when things are quiet or when you are in a noisy environment?

If you want to re-habituate toward a state of focus and away from a state of distraction, self-study is the place to start. Understanding your relationship to distraction and your own personal tendencies improves your productivity power.

Here is one thing you can do to gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses and improve your productivity…

For the next few days, pay attention to whenever you felt especially productive or especially prone to distraction. Jot down the following:

  • When did the impulse to distract come up? Or when were you in the productivity zone
  • What were you doing?
  • What was the time of day?
  • Which outlet of distraction did you go to?
  • What was the project you were working on when you felt productive?
  • How was your mood?

Once you have done this look for patterns and themes. For example, do you tend to feel the urge to check social media when you get tired? Do you tend to waste time checking your email when faced with a difficult project or assignment? Do you find that you are super focused when working alone or on a team?

Then, and this is easy, once you’ve figured out your patterns: work with those strengths and avoid those weaknesses.

Once you know the circumstances under which you’re most and least productive, align your most important and challenging tasks with those aspects so you can run on all cylinders.

Self-knowledge is the best form of power and once you know which factors help you and which factors hurt you, you can maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses and make a significant improvement in the way you tackle your relationship with productivity.

Don’t worry about what other people or experts do, just focus on what you do best and how you do best.

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