“Focus” is something that many of us suck at these days. We struggle sticking to one task for a long period of time without pinging away to a variety of distractions, whether it be the knock at the office door, an actual phone call, email, some other phone notification, or our own disparate priorities and overwhelming number of tasks that queue up in our minds each day, everyday.
If ‘Focus’ were like required by local law enforcement, I’d be in the pokey nearly every dang day.
Consequently, I’ve listed ‘Focus’ as one of the attributes I’m encouraging myself to… focus… on at least one week every quarter of the year. See also Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues that he tried to wrangle every quarter.
Here’s a suggested prescription that helps me make the day more useful vs. leaky, if you know what I mean. These five items should help with your focus. They help me keep myself lasered in when I actually follow my own advice:
- Turn off the dang phone: 3-4 hours at a time if you are able to do so, i.e. if you have no possibility of your child or some other person desperately needing to talk to you. If you can’t fully turn it off, put it in a different room or turn off all notifications except for the phone itself. Top shelf it. Hide it in your pantry or in a drawer across the office.
- Single task as much as possible: Do one thing at a time. If you’re answering email, don’t do anything else. If you’re working on a project, turn off your email. Multitasking, as we’ve all heard by now, isn’t really a thing. You’re simply bouncing back and forth without focusing on anything very well.
- Be clear on 3 main things to get done today: And worry about doing them ONLY. Even if you’re in customer service, you have bigger projects that have to get done that never get done because you live in the urgency of your email. Consider this: Nearly NOTHING has to be done within the 5 minutes within which you receive the request. But nearly everything larger can be done within a focused 30-90 minute time period. The big rocks – move those first. Then freely bob and weave with your inbox.
- Use the ‘jam session’ to do a full 90 minutes of work at a time on a single project or task: This is a classic idea that I’ve heard most recently through Darren Hardy’s Darren Daily videos. Take y our three main things, and give yourself at least two 90 minute focused work sessions where you focus solely on those things. You’ll be amazed how much you get done!
- Keep short accounts: Make quick decisions on calls, emails, processing stuff – but only AFTER the 3 mains are done and the jam sessions are over. This one is a tough one for many of us (others, not so much). In Buster Benson’s “Why Are We Yelling?” he talks about being 70% sure of a decision is enough to take action. No need to be 100% sure of everything. Be mostly sure, and pull the trigger. Most decisions are reversible down the road.
There you go. Focus. Hopefully those things are helpful.