Focus: Get More Done With Your Core Values Index Profile Share:
- Steve Williamson, Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, December 20, 2021
Tags: #focus #CoreValuesIndex #productivity
We live in a world filled with an unprecedented amount of distractions. Never in human history has it been harder to stay focused, and it's because we have filled our daily lives with Too Many Shiny Things — smart phones, social media, etc.
The irony is that technology, ostensibly created to help us be more productive and to enrich our lives, is keeping us from getting anything done.
Hold the phone. Is that really true? Were we less distracted and more focused in 1951 than we are in 2021?
Psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists are wonderful people who spend their career studying human behavior in its various forms. They wanted to know the answer to the question: How much of our distraction is from external sources vs. our own thoughts and behavior?
Their research has shown that 53% of our distraction is our own fault. We are the cause of our own inability to focus, and this ratio of cause hasn't appreciably changed over the past few decades, or even over the past few centuries.
Is distraction always a bad thing?
We all want to be more focused — except when we don't. Sometimes we just need to give our brains a break and do nothing.
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and other times I just sits." — R. Williamson
My dad used to say something to me that really highlighted this need to decompress. "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and other times I just sits." Apart from his deliberately poor grammar to make it funnier, my dad's saying was profoundly wise.
Research has shown that most people can only stay productively focused on a task for about 90 minutes at a time. After that, focus and productivity take a dive until we reset our minds with a break in the routine.
"But I'm different," some of you might say. "Once I get started on something, I can see it through to completion even if it takes all day."
That may be true to a certain extent for some rare individuals, but like the myth of multi-tasking1, it may be a case of conflating activity with productivity.
Just because you're busy doesn't mean you're getting things done.
The Core Values Index and Productivity
We can speak about broad observations and averages regarding productivity and focus all day, but as you read this article, what you want to know is: "Yeah, but what about me?"
How can you as an individual be more productive and focused, averages be damned?
The breadth and depth of information and knowledge available to us about individual personality, provided by the Core Values Index psychometric assessment, is unprecedented. Personality tests have been around for a long time, some are entertaining, others have a certain usefulness, while still others are about as accurate as Ouija boards.
→ The CVI is the most accurate and reliable psychometric assessment on the market today.
If you take the CVI and read your assessment report, what can you learn about how you are hardwired that will help you be more focused?
You are a special combination of unique experiences and emotional hardwiring. But you also have some traits that we can summarize and describe based on your Core Values Index profile that will shed light on the way your brain works.
This CVI light will help you with tricks and tips to help you be more focused.
→ If you haven't taken the CVI, go over to erep.com/core-values-index/ and get started, then return to this article and keep reading.
Once you've taken the CVI, look for which of the four core values is your primary energy. There are four of these energies — Builder, Merchant, Innovator and Banker — and every individual has a certain amount of each within them. These energies are relfected on a scale from 0 (none) to 36 (maximum). Whichever is your primary core value energy is the one we will focus on here.
On the surface, it would be a valid assumption that Builders will be the most productive of all four core value energies. They enjoy getting things done and checking things off their to-do list more than any other.
This love of getting things done is true about Builders, and it is one of their dominant characteristics. Builders can still benefit from improvements in their focus, though. They can just as easily get into that trap of confusing being busy with being productive. Builders want to get things done, the trick is to get the right things done.
For those who's primary core value energy is Builder, here are some tips to be more focused and productive:
- Rely on information from others, especially those who have Banker or Innovator as their primary core value energy, to help prioritize which tasks you should be completing first.
- Make lists. Don't just blindly move forward with your driving energy on whatever task is within your grasp. Set an order to which tasks should be completed first. Plan the work, then work the plan.
Merchants are great starters but don't tend to worry much about finishing. They also prefer to get others involved, everyone pulling together toward a common goal.
Merchants avoid working in isolation.
When a Merchant is working alone, they can be easily distracted by other activities that make them feel more connected to others, such as social media or phone calls with friends. Merchants can get things done, but the way they work best needs to embrace their innate need to get tasks completed as a group and not as a lone wolf.
For those whose primary core value energy is Merchant, here are some tips to be more focused and productive:
- Don't go it alone. You will be distracted and avoid tasks when working in isolation, so get others to join in. Your motivation to get started will go way up if you're doing it with a friend or co-worker.
- Hang out with Builders. They love getting things done and bringing them to completion, so their participation will not only help you stay focused, they'll help you get things completed, too.
Innovators love to solve problems and this presents both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, they will dive in head first on challenging problems and devote great amounts of time and energy to find solutions. If something needs to be accomplished that doesn't seem like much of a challenge, however, the Innovator's motivation can quickly wane. They can get bored with activities that present no challenge.
Another obstacle to the Innovator is too much focus. Innovators don't just want to find any old solution to the problem; they want to find the best solution. This means they can get into an Innovator's loop where they focus too much energy and time on a problem at the expense of other things on their to-do list.
For those whose primary core value energy is Innovator, here are some tips to be more focused and productive:
- Merchants will help you get motivated to start, and Builders will help you know when "good enough" has been reached, it's time to mark the task as done, and move onto other things.
- If you find it hard to get motivated to work on something that doesn't seem like much of a challenge, find a way to go about doing the task in a more efficient way. Even a mundane task can become a juicy problem to solve if you use your Innovator's energy to find a cool new way to do it. Innovators excel at finding new efficiencies in outdated processes.
Bankers have the reputation of gathering data and information but lacking the drive to get started. Some see them as the opposite of "Get'r Done" Builders, but this isn't always true. Bankers can be incredibly focused and productive, but the trick is to go about the task in a Banker sort of way.
As with any core value energy, it's a waste of time and energy to expect a Banker to act like a Builder, Merchant or Innovator. Bankers can follow procedures and plans with incredible accuracy and fidelity better than any other core value profile. Remember that fact and you'll be amazed at how focused and productive a Banker can be.
For those whose primary core value energy is Banker, here are some tips to be more focused and productive:
- Bankers love lists and plans. If something has a recipe, the Banker will follow it accurately and precisely. Just don't expect the Banker to 'wing it' or improvise as they go. That's what Merchants are for.
- Bankers can rely on Builders, and to a lesser extent Merchants and Innovators, to set things in motion. Those other core value profiles can lend their initiative and guidance to the task and then watch the Banker utilize their own energy to bring it to a highly reliable and risk-reduced completion.
General Advice to Stay Focused
The commonality between all four core value energy types is to recognize their own strengths, utilize them, and rely on the energy of others where they are lacking. If you are a Banker, rely on a Builder to lead from the front. If you are an Innovator, trust a Merchant's energy for motivation and inspiration.
Beyond your individual Core Values Index profile, here are some general guidelines to help you stay focused.
- Recognize that your brain can only stay focused for finite lengths of time, no matter who you are or how you are hardwired. Shoot for no more than 90 minutes per task before you take a break, doing something completely unrelated for 10-20 minutes before re-engaging on the main effort.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep. Caffeine provides diminishing returns and isn't a long-term solution. A great night's sleep is an amazing source of energy and focus and has a lot of health benefits, too.
- Break things into chunks. How do you write a 300-page book? One paragraph or even one sentence at a time. Don't look at the whole project and become frozen with an inability to start, thinking, "How am I ever going to write something that large?" Instead, tell yourself, "For the next 90 minutes, I'm going to write the outline for the first three chapters." This gives you a specific objective that is realistic and clearly measurable, and you have a finite time to work on it that is in line with what psychologists have learned about our brain's ability to focus.
- Turn off your smart phone and social media accounts. Although we are the ones ultimately in control of our ability to focus 53% of the time, there's no sense tempting ourselves with needless distractions. For 90 minutes, turn all of it off. You can check your email and Twitter account during your break.
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in information technology, software development, and project management spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing he is an aspiring multi-instrumentalist and composer, a virtual pilot in a home-built flight simulator, and a cyclist.
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