Most of us can relate to the experience of trying to execute on an important task and then realizing an hour later that we’ve gotten distracted and gone down a rabbit trail. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty common experience. What isn’t so common is people who know how to break that pattern or avoid it all together and stay focused like a laser beam.
Here are 3 ways to help you keep your focus so you can be one of the few who get it right:
1. Recognize you can Multi-task but you can’t Multi-focus. Multi-tasking is walking and chewing gum at the same time, shredding and filing at the same time. Multi-focusing would be trying to construct an important e-mail while carrying on a phone conversation or reading while fielding the profound questions of life your grandson is asking you at the same time (been there done that?). My good friend David Browder describes the former as “spin” activities and the later as “flow” work. One exception to this is listening to music for reasons you can read about here.
2. Embrace singular focus. Focus, by definition is singular; it’s the main point, purpose or item of interest. Regardless of how powerful you may be, you become impotent and incapable when you don’t stay focused. In fact, distraction is the exact tactic a lion tamer uses to keep from becoming dinner when he enters the cage. Avoid the “chair effect” that tames the powerful lion by doing the following:
- Triage and limit your choices. Too many choices confuse an immobilize us; more isn’t better, better is better
- Decided and act. Immediately take at least one small action step toward what your focusing on. It could be as simple as a calendar entry. This provides a small bit of emotional “glue” to help you keep your focus as well as providing momentum which makes the next action step easier.
- Create the environment you need. You know what you’re easily derailed by, so put yourself in a position to succeed. Plan in advance to arrange your surroundings to minimize the things that undermine you and incorporate the things that help you keep focused
3. Know when and how to change your focus. The reality is that many important things vie for our time, attention and resources, so staying focused when it’s time to move on isn’t good either. In fact, that place is called “stuck” and stuck isn’t in your’s or anyone else’s best interests. So what’s a solution? Knowing “when” or “just enough” and “how”.
- When or “just enough”– “just enough” is just that: just enough for now. “When” is once you’ve completed or contributed what only you can do. That may be the end of it, unless it involves a process or program that needs to continue to operate and grow. In that case, then ensure others are positioned to carry-on and equip them with the “how”.
- How- The systems you’ve put in place to keep things going as efficient and effective as possible
Regardless of how much power or influence you have, it doesn’t mean much without Focus. Leaders without focus are just like a high-performance car going around a traffic circle not knowing which road to take. The result is that they and those with them expend a lot of energy but get no where.
Which of these 3 focus factors are you doing well in and which one, if you worked on it, would help you take your leadership and life to the next level? Once you identify it, don’t forget to immediately take a small action step toward it.
Share the wealth with a comment- what’s working for you and and what isn’t?