What exactly is focus? and why do most of us have problems with it. Here I am focusing on focus from a business perspective. The bottom line? if you are focusing on something that does not increase your profit then you are not focusing! Procrastination is the other name for this of course.
Imagine what you could achieve if you improved your productivity ten-fold? and felt less stressed, in fact far less stressed than you currently do? Well I am here to tell you it can be done and it can be done very simply.
It starts with a list. But this is no ordinary never ending list. And by the way, lists (or more precisely ‘todo’ lists) are the devil when it comes to productivity. For decades I have been making lists. Short lists. The type of list you can actually follow through on (a shopping list is a great example). But back in 2010 I started to develop the never ending list. This is the list that literally never ends. By the time you have done one of the tasks on it, your brain has thought of at least two more.
I use Google’s Gmail service a lot. It has the ability to flag certain emails with a star (and other symbols too now). I also user their email ‘labelling’ functions too. Once I realised that my ‘starred’ list was getting too long to handle, I created a ‘double A Star’ to list to try to get some priority into the system. That failed too. So I then got into what I called my ‘triple A Star Priority List’. My co-workers got a good laugh out of that! Of course, it failed just like all the other never ending lists before it.
So, how do you get over this? Simple create a new list every day. Make it the first thing you do (and most definitely BEFORE you check your email – the world’s all time procrastination machine). Think of all the things you think you need to do that day. Time it. Give yourself 10 minutes to create the list. Now prioritise the list so that the one thing that is going to make you the most money (either now or in the future) is at the top.
That one thing will be the absolute one thing you must do today. Once you have achieved it, take the rest of the day off. What I really mean is reward yourself. Within a few days of doing this (and yes it really is that quick) you will find yourself wanting to do this. Why? because you will remember that doing it makes you feel great (make sure the reward is a good one, a bit like that cold beer you promise yourself for mowing the lawn).
What if the task you wrote down is just too complicated? Break it up into doable chunks. You don’t need to do them all in one go (the task may take more than a day) but make sure the remaining chunks become the priority for the following day’s list. It is imperative that you finish the whole job. If you don’t you will be teaching your mind that it is OK to stop half way through, and trust me, that will end in procrastination again.
And how does this help reduce stress? You feel stressed mostly because you know you are not doing what you should be doing. Once you start focusing and doing, the stress disappears very quickly. It really is that simple. Take action and see what happens. You will be very surprised.
I was going to enter the wonderful world of distractions, but I think that deserves a piece all on its own. I will put the link to it here in a couple of days. Now, where’s that beer?