Like most of you, I have some time-wasting games on my phone (they keep me from being obnoxious when I have to wait). One, in particular, is a matching-the-colors sort of deal. At the top of the game, it tells you that you need so many of each thing in a certain color. It is easy for me to get caught up in the coolness of making really long runs and completely missing what it takes to go to the next level.
I’m not alone. There are many ways to be “busy” while not taking action to reach your goals. Emails, text messages, social media, rearranging the filing cabinet – the list of distractions is enormous. But at the end of the day, whether or not you meet your goals is what is important. How can you ensure that your focus stays on your main thing?
There is no question that uninterrupted time results in improved productivity but only if you have a clear idea of what you plan to accomplish during that time. You may even need an accountability partner who asks if you actually spent your two-hour block of time the way you planned. For a lot of us, creating uninterrupted time is the hardest part. This means turning off your notifications, putting your phone in silent mode, and letting everyone around you know that you are not available.
You may want to evaluate when is the best time of day for you to focus. Right before lunch may not work if you find your attention wandering to what you’re going to eat. If you are a morning person, early hours may be better for you. If you are a person like me (it takes me time to get awake enough to think), then another block of time during the day may give you the best results.
Distraction caused by our devices is so common that if you manage people, you probably need to help your team with this too. That means advising that they put blocks of time in their calendars, creating clear expectations about what they should do during those hours, and helping them to set expectations about respecting their time. This can be a good topic to discuss as a team because creating productive time for each team member is critical to driving the results you want to achieve.
I’ve recently finished the book ‘A World Without Email’ by Cal Newport. One of the techniques highlighted in the book is a quick check-in meeting each morning – no sit-down meeting, 15 minutes tops. During this check-in, everyone states what they will get done before the next meeting. This creates natural accountability. If you didn’t progress in your tasks, the next morning you have to tell everyone that you are repeating the same task for another day. No one wants to do that!!
With this in mind, what steps will you take to improve your focus?
Charlise Latour a business coach and owner of Accelerate Your Success. She works with each client to determine what their goals are and create a plan so they can achieve them. She is actively involved in Dancing & Singing With The King which raises money to promote dance education including working with local schools to offer dance classes during the school day. This is a natural fit as she is an avid ballroom dancer.