In an environment of notifications, instant messaging, and multi-tasking, the ability to pay attention and concentrate for any length of time can be greatly diminished. The ability to multitask is not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact it is impossible to truly multi-task. Our brains are wired to focus on one thing at a time. For your greatest productivity potential, establish systems and processes to maintain focus.
Focused Leaders have learned a basic principle, where your attention goes the power flows. What you pay attention to is where your energy goes. If you never focus or concentrate on any one thing your success rate is greatly diminished.
“Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things … fail because we lack concentration — the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?” –John D. Rockefeller
Where your focus lands the fire spreads. If you are going to accomplish any task, project or goal you have to concentrate for certain amounts of time without interruption. The drop by meeting, the Facebook notification on your screen that someone liked your recent meme, or the phone call that you simply have to take will carve at least 25-30 minutes out of your focus time just in refocusing. That’s not including the time it takes to deal with the interruption. Even if you don’t bite and ignore the FB notification, or let the call go to voice mail, the notification still distracts you, if even for a moment.
How do highly productive leaders focus with any sense of clarity and accomplishment?
Decide what is really important to you. Arnold Palmer said “Concentration comes out of a mix of confidence and hunger”. What are you passionate about. What keeps you awake at night and wakes you up in the morning. When you start with what you are passionate about you will get into a practice or habit of focus. You will be better equipped to focus on those things you are not so passionate about but still need to be accomplished. Start with your passions.
Focused leaders are intentional leaders. They are intentional about focus time. Focus time does not just happen. You have to plan for it, prepare for it, and implement it.
A common thought is to do the most difficult things first. If you get the hard things out of the way then it will be downhill. The problem; you need momentum. Momentum gives you the speed or motivation. It’s like starting at the top of the hill. Once you get to the bottom your momentum pushes you back up the next hill with little effort on your part. Starting with the most difficult projects means you are starting at the bottom of the hill from a standstill and trying to get to the top. It takes more effort, will power, and energy. Dave Ramsey teaches this principle in finance. Start with the smallest debt and pay that off first. Not the debt with the highest interest. He says, when your goal is to get out of debt, the quicker you can pay one off the more motivated, and successful you will feel.
Decide you are going to focus every day. This will take some discipline and a schedule. But remember, great leaders do things on a schedule and not so great leaders do things when they feel like it. Put it on your calendar, close the door and put a do not disturb sign out.
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What are you going to focus on? Tell me below!