By Kevin Eikenberry
Losing focus is like a low-grade fever – it keeps us from feeling great and getting things done. After a while, we seem to keep going without noticing the harmful effects it causes. So what do we do to cure it? How can we help our teams (and ourselves) stay focused and be less fragmented?
How often do you feel tugged in multiple directions during the day, driven by “something urgent?” We can create more focus for ourselves and others. Following the following pieces of advice is a serious step in that direction.
Here are six ways to help your team stay focused:
- Know Your Purpose When you know why you work and why it matters, you can stay focused. Consider that your most productive days are also probably your most focused days. Yes, there is likely urgency associated with those days (the product has to be shipped today or my vacation flight leaves in eight hours), but the focus was enhanced by the why. Urgency helps but trying to live a daily adrenaline rush isn’t the best or healthiest way to create greater overall focus.
- Build Clarity Clarity is also heightened on those adrenaline-infused days. You know exactly what you must accomplish to be successful. It is easy to lose sight of those most important things on other less adrenaline-filled days. It is important to to clarify your goals and purpose. Consider the cyclical effect of looking through a pair of binoculars. The more you adjust your focus to get the clearest image, the more you must redefine and refocus on your targets. Clarity is attractive. The more clearly you can see your destination, the easier it will be to stay the course and avoid distractions.
- Plan You know what you want, but what is your plan to get there? The plan makes things real and gives you something to do. I’m not telling you anything new when I say that. Whether you are talking about a project due in a week, or a bucket list life goal, without a plan your odds of achievement are reduced. But this fact impacts your focus too! A plan on paper is easier to focus on than a good idea and a big reason why. Your focus will be intensified, and you are less likely to be distracted when you have a solid plan.
- Your Daily Two When you look at a big task, it is easy to get diverted or to procrastinate.
The way to give your plan legs is to do something. Writing a book? You might not be able to write a chapter today. But you could write 500 words, or outline the next section, right?Start each day with your daily two, the two things you must accomplish today. Anytime you are tempted to get diverted, ask yourself: Are my daily two completed today? If not, the question will likely refocus and re-energize you.
- Say No The more things on your list, the harder it is to focus on any one of them. If we can’t say no, even when it would be good to do so, we can’t maintain the focus we need. I know saying no to good things is hard – until we acknowledge that sometimes we must say no to the good in order to achieve the great.
- Start with Yourself All of the ideas focus on what we can do as individuals and as a part of a team. In the title, I promise to give advice to leaders, and while the other five points apply broadly, this last one is critical. It’s easy to say and hard to do: If you want your team to be more focused, be more focused yourself.When you stay focused, you are sending less new things (that divert attention). Your actions will be an example of the focused behavior you want from them.
Looking for more ways to grow as a leader for your team? Check out our upcoming learning events or send an email to email@example.com for more information.