In this high-tech information age bright shiny distractions abound!
Since the 1960’s in Australia we have enjoyed a level of prosperity that means most people in our society are used to having what they want. We have become the ‘options generation’ who hate saying ‘No’ to anything just in case we might miss out.
Focus is not so much about saying ‘No’, rather it is saying an absolute and resolute ‘Yes’ to pursuing a goal, a plan, a vision, a dream. It is the ability to zero in on what is important to you to the exclusion of everything else in a way that almost makes everything else cease to exist at least in that moment of time.
10 Keys to Help You Focus
- Know what you want! I recently heard Sir Richard Branson interviewed. The thing that stood out to me as a key to his success was that from age 15 he knew exactly what he wanted to do and found a way to do it. Brilliant example of clear focus and creative action leading to extraordinary success.
- Understand and focus on the real business you are in! As opposed to just knowing what you are doing now. E.g. Shop retailers current complaints about internet sales shows they do not understand which business they are in. If they were really focused on getting the best deals for their customers they would have started an internet sales section to their business years ago.
- Become an expert in your area. You do not have to be an expert at everything; in fact it is not possible. But you need to know your area well enough to be considered an authority, and to be at the leading edge of things. An expert is a person who has a very deep knowledge of a very narrow area.
- Focus on the important things! You need to know or be able to find out who you need to know, what are the really important issues and what it will take to get you where you want to go!
- Focus leads to action! Learn to be wise, to discern the heart of the matter, not just all the peripheral issues. Knowledge can be lots of information but wisdom knows what is necessary to take action that will take you forward.
- Know ‘WHY’ you are doing what you do. A really compelling ‘WHY’ will greatly assist focus and help you cut off distractions more ruthlessly. Your ‘why’ will also help get you up in the morning when things are tough.
- Regularly set deadlines! It is amazing how focused we are and how much we get done before we go on holidays or have an immovable deadline. Work easily expands to fill the time available and focus can become clouded.
- Bonus – A ‘fog buster’ exercise is to have an hour of power – list 6 things you need to focus on and spend 10 minutes on each for the next hour. You will be amazed how much you get done, and the clarity and motivation that will kick in.
- Take regular breaks! It is amazing how clear headed we are after we have had a good break. No one can concentrate for long periods without losing some capacity to focus. Go for a walk, a powernap, a day off, a well timed holiday, a total change of pace. These kinds of breaks, when they are not just distractions to avoid work, greatly aid your ability to focus.
- Know your criteria for success! Sometimes things don’t work. With clear criteria for success you can measure your progress and limit wasting time, energy and money on projects that just will not fly. This helps you guard against the downside of focus which can be seeing the tree clearly but missing the forest.
If you are going to achieve anything great in this highly competitive world you must learn to focus.
So, how focused are you?
Very fine list. I'd add: know what you listen for. So many people make bad decisions and lose focus because they don't know how they listen; and consequently, leave crucial information on the table. I write a blog on listening (www.xtho.com/blog) and am constantly educated about the far-reaching impact of this crucial skill.
BTW, I'll be in Western Australia (Perth and Gracetown) for February. Any chance you'll be in the area? I'd love to chat.
Hi Marian, I agree that most of us are poor listeners, often unable to discern the precious from the worthless. Glad you will be in Perth soon, but as I'm in Sydney (I.e. 5000kms away) it will be hard to catch up.