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Conscious Productivity: Seeing the Forest, Not Just the Trees

Tree Forest

Tunnel vision is probably one of the best ways to create unproductive time. At a certain point it’s not focused concentration anymore. It’s just ignoring everything else and a lot of better opportunities. And it’s also limiting the angles and creativity you can apply to the current task.

Now surround yourself with a whole flock of tasks like that. It’s like being in the middle of a forest but you can’t see the forest or anything beyond it. No matter what direction you look in, all you see is trees.

You’re trapped.

Each one of those trees wants your attention. You have to get through one tree only to be greeted by another. And you have to clearcut valuable trees out of the way just to get some help in there.

Taking Strategy Breaks

Without a strategic plan; without seeing the whole forest from 20,000 ft up, it’s really easy to stay lost in the trees or to hack away without really getting anywhere.

This is where taking strategy breaks throughout the day comes in. A lot of people talk about how task-switching is a big time killer. And it can be. If you’re checking your email constantly or putting out little fires or losing your rhythm, you can lose a tremendous amount of time.

But I’m not talking about task switching. That’s just going from one tree to the next. Strategy breaks are about leaving the forest. So you can look at it from a different perspective.

Walk away and get unstuck. See everything. See all the trees and notice the ones that really stand out. The gems. See the ones that don’t matter. See the ones that will one day grow tall and strong.

That’s strategy.

The Trees Aren’t Always Green, But the Forest is

It’s those ideas you get in the shower that are gold. Those flashes of clarity when you’re sitting there mindlessly strumming a guitar or kicking back to cool down after a hard workout.

I’ve generated more revenue just staring stupidly at the mountains than I ever have hammering away on a mountain of tasks.

Trees are easy to see.

It’s seeing the forest that takes vision.

Denouement
 

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3 Comments

  1. Shane, this is especially timely.

    I’m seeing clients getting totally bogged down in minutia as a response to the stress of producing more, faster, and doing both in a perceived “unfriendly” economy. It’s the normal human reaction to feeling overwhelmed: ‘Do even more of what you know how to do so at least you feel some sense of control.’

    This is exactly the time to step out of the forest and look at it from a distance.

    Keep writing…

  2. Hey Steve,

    Thanks. Being trapped in the trees is a real danger that can turn into a slow downward spiral because it’s so difficult to get any real traction. I’ve been in this situation a few times myself, and now when I recognize it I get out as fast as humanly possible.

    I think a lot of people get tired and overworked and it becomes just too much effort to do “look around”. But that effort to step back and see the whole forest is what breaks the cycle and opens up new opportunites. It’s well worth the effort.

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