What is focus? Why it's Important, & How to Create It...
By Les Hewitt for Project EVO
WHAT IS FOCUS?
Focus is the ability to concentrate on completing your most important goals, despite distractions, setbacks and interruptions.
This is especially valuable for achieving the goals that allow you to enjoy an exceptional quality of life. The number one reason that stops people from getting what they value most in life, is a LACK of focus! People who develop the habit of focus, prosper. Those who don’t tend to struggle. They miss out on many opportunities, including creating financial freedom, having lots of time off and focusing on work that is energizing and fulfilling.
WHY IS FOCUS IMPORTANT?
When you are 100% focused on completing an important task, project or goal, your creativity, energy and effectiveness all expand. You feel a sense of flow and time becomes irrelevant, especially when using your natural strengths. When you complete what you started on time and exceed the outcome desired, you feel a great sense of satisfaction. Have you experienced this before?
That’s why it’s called the POWER of focus. You feel more powerful and when this becomes an ingrained habit you will have tremendous confidence about what is possible.
The opposite is true. How do you feel when you are constantly battling interruptions, allowing yourself to be distracted and experiencing the pressure of not getting the job done on time?
Overwhelmed, stressed, and mentally beating yourself up for procrastinating are likely consequences. And then there’s the peer pressure that comes from above, or with people on your team, right?
A wise man once told me, “Winners focus, losers spray!”
Choose to become laser focused. The good news is, it’s a learned skill, one that will transform your life.
HOW DO YOU HARNESS THE MAGIC OF FOCUS?
First, start by designing your week instead of making those endless, daily To-Do lists. In my experience, most people never finish their list and so they roll it into the next day. The problem is, they already have a list in their heads for tomorrow. They play this rollover game all week and end up taking work home at night.
Or, even worse, they sabotage their personal or family plans for the weekend, which causes all sorts of repercussions. My friend, Ed Foreman, told me a story of a five year-old little girl who wasn’t getting much time to play with her Dad, especially during weekends. So, she asked her Mum why. The response?
“Daddy is really busy at work these days and sometimes he has to bring his work home.” The little girl replied, “Why don’t they just put him in a slower group!”
Take 25 minutes first thing on Monday mornings, BEFORE you do anything else, to design your week. That means no emails, no phone calls, nothing! Designing your week is first, above everything else. Then make a list of the most important activities you want to complete by the end of the week. These need to be aligned with your most important monthly or quarterly business goals. Consider these activities to be the stepping stones that bring you closer to achieving those goals. Also, include a few personal goals to create some balance.
Next, highlight your Top 3 Business Priorities. Immediately go to your calendar and figure out the amount of time it will take to complete each of these activities. Then choose blocks of Focus Time to ensure these are completed by the end of the week.
Here’s the really important part: Focus Time means you only concentrate on one activity during that time. No meetings, multi-tasking, daydreaming, distractions or interruptions!!! And make sure you inform the people around you that you are not available during Focus Time. Be ruthless with your Focus Time or you’ll never enjoy the numerous benefits and rewards it will give you.
This could be 15 minutes, an hour, or half a day. With major projects, it might require getting away from the office for a couple of days so you can focus on getting real work done. Sometimes hack-a-thons are ideal for this, where several small groups with specific expertise collaborate to create a new product, or system, that takes the business to another level.
In case you are wondering, you don’t need to create multiple blocks of Focus Time every day. This is not sustainable anyway. As you practice this, you’ll learn that four or five blocks a week is likely all that’s required to complete those Top 3 Priorities. Naturally you will have other activities to work on as well, however these don’t require the same level of focus and intensity as your Top 3.
Do this for five weeks and you will be amazed at the difference this will make. One more thing; leave some white space on your calendar every week. In the real world, stuff happens and often it’s unexpected. When every minute is not accounted for in your day, this will protect your Focus Time and give you a measure of flexibility.
Now it’s time to raise your Focus game. To kill any thoughts of procrastination, use this simple technique to start your Focus Time. In a loud voice and with passion, say 5…4…3…2…1… Go!!!
Have fun and stay focused!