Focus is the operative word today. We are told to focus or don’t lose your focus. Focus is a vision word, having to do with concentrating and seeing what is in front of you. Recently I have discovered that I cannot concentrate for long periods of time. Four hours of concentrated focus is pushing my upper limits. Now, this does not mean that I only work four hours a day. It means I must make sure that I use my focus time for things that matter and take concentrated focus. Not everything that has to be done has to use the same amount of focus.
Plan. I cannot just let my inbox, telephone, and the loudest voices dictate what I focus on. This is why planning via morning and evening routines are so indispensable. You must have a plan and then you must work your plan. Planning is an essential preparation in order to focus on what is important.
Prioritize. Does planning mean I must make decisions as to what are the priorities in my life? Absolutely! In order to get things done, I have to determine the essentials and focus on completing the necessary actions.
Purpose. What is important to me? Why am I here? What do I need to do? Your job description may list tasks and assignments and give you a title, but you need to be a decision-maker! Decide what is important and plan and then execute the plan.
Eliminate Distractions. In order to focus, I have to have a clean and distraction-free workspace. I am easily distracted so I need to have the materials at hand that is needed to complete the task. I do this all ahead of time and get them ready. I set a timer and work in blocks of time. This enables me to concentrate. A distraction-free environment and a timer help to keep my mind focused on the matter at hand.
Focus is like a muscle it must be exercised. Just as muscles become sore and fatigued when you begin to exercise them, you must likewise exercise the focus muscle. Regardless of how out of shape your focus muscles are they will get better with continual exercise and use.
Focus is being present and not lost in the distractions and daydreaming that can keep us from getting things done. Focus is easier to achieve with a calm mindset. Clear your mind and prepare yourself for the work you are doing.
The edge comes to those who have given up on multi-tasking. Many believe that multi-tasking is a myth. It is easier to concentrate on one item at a time. When finished you may move on to the next item. Multi-tasking causes us to have our concentration divided and we would be more effective working on one thing at a time.
Execution is the key factor. Many have good intentions and develop lovely plans and strategies for finishing their goals and dreams. What will set you apart from the crowd will be whether you execute and get things done. After finishing with a project or task, take some time for evaluation. Ask yourself some questions: Did things go as planned? Why or why not? Did you have enough time? What did you learn? What will you change going forward? Failing to evaluate is a recipe for repeating the same mistakes.
As you think about focus and what it means for you and your responsibilities, take some time and think through some of the implications described in this blog post. Often, we fail to build thinking and reflecting time into our schedules.
Today, do one thing and one thing at a time. I believe you will increase your productivity. Remember to build in a time to reflect and evaluate.