How to Stay Focused on Your Most Important Goals
What Your Lack of Focus is Costing You, and How You Can Fix It.
Productivity is not a question of how much time a day you spend working. It all comes down to how focused you are on the most important things.
Sometimes, a day when you've worked just three or four hours can end up being much more productive than a day in which you've been trying to work for more than eight.
Have you ever experienced this?
Like many of you, I've had my challenges staying on task and maintaining focus.
And, like many of you, I have read a multitude of books, listened to a bunch of podcasts, and absorbed numerous how-tos, hacks, and tips in the hopes of becoming a highly focused individual.
After years of trying various options, I've settled on a few that have delivered consistent results.
For context, I am lovingly referred to by my husband as "his little squirrel."
Why? I like to think of it as being cute, productive, fun to watch, maybe.
The reality is I pop from one thing to the next at a pretty quick clip on a regular basis.
While things may make sense in my head, things do not always come across clearly to those I'm communicating with.
It's also not the best attribute when high productivity is required.
It's one thing to think of innovative new ideas and an entirely different thing to consistently execute on the right things, bringing those ideas into reality.
Perhaps some of you can relate?
I've learned over the years that the little things that you do every day build towards big things; therefore, focus is critical in being able to execute those small things day in and day out.
Here are a few practical strategies I use regularly that you may find helpful.
I listen to Subliminals (on time management, organization ), or coffee shop, music with headphones while working. Generally speaking, I plug into YouTube or something that I’ve downloaded. This helps me to stay on task.
When headphones are on, and that background is playing, it is time to focus. During this time, I will generally be taking care of online communication, writing, or moving through tasks lined up in Asana.
My phone is on DND and placed it in a desk drawer. This action alone can retrieve hours from your day. While our phones are incredible tools, they can also be life force suckers. Don't let this happen to you.
I set alarms on my phone when I'm sitting down to do deep work. I generally do 45 to 60-minute sessions when working through big chunks of tasks. If you've not done this previously, set your alarm for 30 minutes with the intention of staying wholly focused on the task at hand.
Don't beat yourself up if you can't do this right away. Keep practicing. You'll get there.
This means no getting up, no checking emails, no interruptions.
Then after you've completed your time, reward yourself.
Get up, walk around, grab a drink (staying hydrated throughout the day goes a long way towards helping you maintain energy, but that’s, perhaps, a conversation for another time) or have a quick chat.
Then come back and do it all again with your next set of priorities.
This strategy alone can help you crank out three to four hours of solid focus that will beat your productivity of a distracted 8+ hour day.
I try my absolute best to keep the main thing the main thing. Years ago, Stephen Covey, Founder of Franklin Covey, coined the phrase, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." While that may seem a little cliché, it is critical to accomplish what you want in life.
It is effortless to get sidetracked with shiny objects and other people's goals and desires.
I find it very helpful to have a set time each day to do networking outreach, task management, team support, and client communication. Because without those things, we have no business.
My time can easily get sucked up in things that keep me busy but not productive. And yours can too.
As Jim Rohn used to so eloquently say, "Either you run the day or the day runs you."
I block out time on my schedule for the driving goals and objectives-based activities as well as self-care, family, and free time.
Maybe you've heard the saying if it doesn't get scheduled, it doesn't get done.
Suppose you are someone, like I am, who shares your schedule with other people. You risk being booked 24/7 with other people's wants driving your activity.
Instead, try to be as vigilant as possible with those precious hours you are given each day. Scheduling time for self-care, family, self-improvement, etc., is critical to your overall happiness and success. Prioritize scheduling those things first.