I know right now, you could use more focus. You have a million needs pulling for your attention and most of them have deadlines of now or yesterday. I’m glad you are taking a quick moment to pause to read this. Be the end, you’ll have a better sense of how to become more focused so you don’t have to keep setting it as your intention.
As a professional organizer, I often heard the resolution to be ‘more organized’. Perhaps you have this desire yourself? Whenever I heard it, I would cringe. What does it even mean?
Now, as a business consultant in the realm of productivity and efficiency, the intention has become, ‘be more focused.’ I reject, “being focused,” as a goal in and of itself. Just like organization, focus is a tool to use. When we set it as the goal, we miss the point. For one, it’s vague. You give yourself permission to fail when you are unclear about what you are actually doing or desiring. Can you imagine just ‘being focused’? Where would that get you? You could sit and stare at the wall. You would have focus but it would be ineffective.
When you desire focus, it is likely that there are other concerns at play. While you have put a positive spin on your desire, you haven’t turned it into something you could move towards. When you don’t have clarity in your vision, you can’t have focus. How do you fix this? Here is what to do instead:
1 – Make decisions – Decision making is the number 1 energy suck on our brains and we make thousands of decisions conscious and unconscious daily. As much as possible, make decisions ahead of time, capture the thought process and then refer to your pre-made decisions as needed. Pre-made decisions look like systems, calendars, flow charts, check lists, email auto-responders, boundaries, signs, clear communication, etc.
2 – Remove distractions – It’s not uncommon for distractions to be unmade decisions but even more likely is that a distraction is a boundary violation. It’s a place where you did not yet set a clear boundary and communicate that boundary to yourself or to others. Boundaries are not evil, they are actually the most kind act you can make for yourself and those around you. What are your boundaries on when you will do work? How long you’ll hang out on social media? Who can knock on your door and when? What comes into your office? Where your stuff goes?
3 – Get clear – Yep, I know you want focus and so you are probably thinking that if you could get clear, you would have already. However, this is now your invitation to do so. My favorite way to ‘get clear’ is to use the Rearview Vision (link to a resource) technique. It is a process of setting a future date and outcome, imagining what you want to already complete, and then discerning what must be true now for that vision to come to be. From here, select 1-4 areas that you need to focus on in the next 30 days to make that vision happen.
4 – Connect Often – If you have decided what to focus on, then don’t forget to reconnect to these focus areas often. My favorite way is to write them down and post them on the wall in front of me so that I can see and act on them consistently through out my day. Everything is then measured against these focus areas.
What will you focus on today?