I just finished up a powerful and insightful personal development book, entitled The Way We Are Working…Isn’t Working, by Tony Schwartz. Michael Hyatt had recommended the book, and I found it to be chock full of great ideas to improve your life. The thing that sets Tony’s book apart from so many others is the real world statistics that Tony includes, from his company’s work with hundreds of organizations around the world.
Tony’s company is called The Energy Project and his work is focused on improving workplace and personal life performance. I found this book ties in with many of the things I’ve blogged about here at Success Begins Today. From diet and exercise, to time management, and goal setting, this little book has some practical and workable solutions to many of the things we all struggle with.
One of the best items in the book was the idea of focused time. Similar to our 48 minutes program, Tony presents the idea of creating rituals, where you work on one thing in a focused manner for a set length of time. He takes this a step further and makes sure that these rituals are scheduled in advance at a set time and place.
This really opened my mind about our popular 48 minute program, where you work on one focused thing for 48 minutes and then take a twelve minute break. Incorporating some of Tony’s ideas I came up with an acronym that will help take this popular program to a new level.
I’ve used the Acronym F.A.S.T. to illustrate how it will work. Here are the components…
1. Focused work means working on one thing at a time. You turn off all distractions such as e-mail, web browsers, and close your door if possible, and focus on one key task.
2. Accountable means setting a short term and long term goal for your project and letting someone else hold you accountable for completing the task.
3. Scheduled means setting a time and place for your focused activities and also setting a completion schedule with milestones along the way.
4. Time is the amount of focused time you will spend on each interval of the project and also the amount of days or weeks to complete the project.
Here are a couple of real world examples how the FAST program works.
Let’s say you want to write a book. You’ll need to figure how much time each of the components for creating a book will take (first draft, editing, formatting etc.) and then schedule a time and place where you can focus on writing your book. You’ll set short term goals and a long term completion date. Then you’ll setup a schedule to complete the project with milestones along the way and ask someone to hold you accountable for each milestone.
Here is an example that I used when writing my first book…
Daily Focused Writing Time: Two 48 minute focused sessions a day, each with a twelve minute break.
Schedule: Write each day starting at 5 in the morning. Finish up at 7am.
Accountability: Aim for a minimum of 1000 words/day. Long term goal of four months to complete the first draft. Have an accountability partner read your work on a daily or weekly basis and provide feedback. Schedule these times in advance.
Time: Setup project milestones to keep you on track (ie..three chapters/week)
Here is an example I used with the Body for Life program…
Daily Focused Time: 48 minute workout session with a 12 minute cool down session afterwards.
Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri, strength training for 48 minutes. Tues, Thurs, Sat, interval aerobic training for 48 minutes. Sunday off
Accountability: Weigh in on Monday mornings. Put weight and waist measurements in a fitness journal. Check in with a coach on a weekly basis.
Time: Daily 48 minutes (short term goal) for 12 Weeks (long term goal)
As you can see, this program will help improve your focus and reach your goals in a timely manner. Since you schedule focused time in advance and have someone hold you accountable, the probability of success is greatly increased.
To help you implement this program in your life, I’ll put together a FAST program guide later this week with a printable strategic planner to put all of these elements in one place.
I’ll include some techniques to improve focus and concentration as well as great references to help you stay on track. The program will also give you a guide to performance accountability. Stay tuned…