Every time we are not focused, the work we produce takes us much longer to produce. Here are some simple steps to get and stay focused.
My future husband has begun a side hustle that is now producing some good income for him, but it’s been driving me crazy. Since this is an after-hours gig, he’s on his phone a lot outside of his normal work hours. We’ll be driving to pick up my children from daycare, and I’ll try to talk to him and it’ll take him minutes to get back to me or he simply won’t hear me at all.
“Why can’t you talk to me while you’re doing that?” I’ve snapped at him before.
“This is when I need to be doing this, and I’m a man, so I can’t multi-task!” he’s told me.
Ignoring his gendered excuse, there is some truth to the power of focus when it comes to creating success for ourselves (and that he obviously needs to make some time for me, so I’m not feeling left out when he’s focusing on his current gig).
It reminds me of this Zen quote:
“Talk when you talk, walk when you walk, and die when you die.”
As in, whatever you do, do it. Fully.
Focus involves the ability to pay attention to things that will help and avoid distractions that will hurt your work efforts. For example, my future husband needs to recruit and send and answer messages. When he’s doing those things, he has to be able to focus on relevant information, research, analyze, and then make and close the sale. He must also avoid typical distractions, like me, other people, e-mail notifications, etc.
Focus is extremely important for your ability to be productive.
For one, if you can’t focus effectively, you can’t think effectively. How many of us have been really in the zone on something work-relatedonly to get side-tracked for 15–20 minutes because we got an alert that we have a new notification on Facebook and while we were reading that, we had to click on an article titled “Ugly Celebrity Babies?” Or we see that our mother has texted us only to completely forget what we were doing because she needs help choosing new curtains?
Every time our mind wanders away from what we are doing, we are wasting precious time. The work we produce will not only be of a lower quality, but it will also take us much longer to produce it.
So how can you ensure that you are focused in a way that is the most productive and efficient?
Here are a few simple steps:
1. De-clutter your mind.
Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by our to-do list or personal crises that we find ourselves unable to focus on any one thing. It can be helpful to go through your tasks and prioritize them. There can be things you can postpone for another day or delegate to someone else.
You might also give yourself ten to fifteen minutes to journal. If there’s a personal crisis going on, it might be helpful for you to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, so you can feel freer to focus on what you need to. Or you might want to write out all of your ideas for a specific project to decide which direction to take.
2. De-clutter your workspace.
A workspace filled with clutter means a mind filled with distractions. To help you focus better, simplify your office by removing unnecessary clutter and making sure you’re able to find what you need to complete your tasks the most efficiently.
3. Master your technology.
You will not ever be able to focus if you are constantly receiving alerts and notifications on your computer or phone. The easiest thing you can do to address that is to turn off your notifications when you are trying to be focused. Set your phone to “Do not disturb” or cull the notifications you receive from apps in your settings. Do the same for your computer. If you have to be around gabbers who constantly distract you (like me with my future husband), set boundaries or work away from them.
If you can take control of your ability to focus, you have given yourself a powerful tool that will enable you to perform at a consistently high level and be both effective and efficient in your work efforts. The result: better quality work, more success, and achievement of your professional goals.