"I can't seem to get focused" is the number one comment I've been hearing from clients and colleagues recently. There are some excellent reasons we don't get focused or stay focused on what is most important to us. Some of these are:
a) We have lots of interests
b) We don't like to say no to projects or favors
c) We are easily distracted
d) We haven't thought through what we want to focus on
e) We are so busy that we stay on the surface of life, just trying to get through the day
Why don't you feel focused on what you most care about? Do any of the above possibilities resonate with you? Or are there reasons I haven't listed that are what allow your energy to be scattered? Please let me know what you discover when you think about this!
Tips For Getting, and Staying, Focused
I have found that when someone makes the decision to get focused, there are several things that make the shift easier and more lasting. It can make a difference when...
a) You want to live your life with more of a purpose. When you turn toward something positive, as opposed to only turning away from the negative, you quickly build up momentum. The usual distractions and other elements that drain your energy will still be there, but you will have a reason to stay focused. This makes it easier to ignore the distractions.
b) You work to gain some insight into why you struggle to focus. Knowing yourself allows you to identify what gets in your way, and then you can step back and look at these issues in a more detached and objective way. Instead of getting frustrated that there isn't enough time in your day, or getting swept up in the flood of your activities, you can keep a healthy perspective on what is pulling you in and how you would like to respond.
c) You pay attention to how you spend your time and stop allowing yourself to waste time on unworthy projects. If your teenager had a big test tomorrow, and you saw her doing everything but study, you'd probably share some words of wisdom with her about planning to use her time properly and your concern that she is wasting the time she needs to use to study. How can you make sure that you first take care of what you most need to do? What advice would you give your daughter or best friend?
Contrary to popular belief, down-time is not wasted time. But spending your most valuable resource (time) on something that is not extremely important to you is a waste of time.
d) You stand for something. Getting focused has a lot to do with your mission. Your mission should be the foundation of your various intentions and actions. If you spend your time, attention, and other resources on what furthers your mission, you will feel productive and you will feel that you are spending your time well. (A previous newsletter focused on mission statements. Let me know if you'd like me to send that issue to you.)
e) You create conditions in your life to allow you to focus on what you most care about:
- Eliminate unnecessary activities
- Reduce your overhead
- Learn to enjoy down-time without feeling "unproductive"
- Don't do projects simply because you feel obligated to do them
- Don't say yes to anything right away (You'll really thank me for this tip!)
- Let others know what your mission is so they can send opportunities your way
- And most importantly, know what your priorities are so that you can make them your focus
If you try these tips, you should notice some changes right away. But if you follow this method for three months, you will feel more productive, energized, and focused!