7 simple methods to use to gain focus
Being a busy executive often means that we are jumping from one task to another. Our attitude could be centred on creating competitive advantage, a better solution, a method of improving the service you give to your customers or something else that your leadership team requires. This means that we are continually shifting our attention to match our stakeholders need and to stay one step ahead of our competitors. Although many of us like to think that we’re 100 percent effective, the truth is that most of us have strengths and weaknesses that impact our effectiveness.
These hygiene factors are further compounded as we overlay technology. The ‘always-on’ society that mobility has created, challenges us at the core which can hinder us from achieving our goals. As businesses have transitioned from an office environment to an individual home environment, boundaries have become blurred.
Consider the Pareto principle (often known as the 80/20 rule) and how it could apply to your business. In simple terms, applying the Pareto principle suggests that around 80 per cent of your profit is gained from 20 per cent of your products or services. (bgateway.com). What if 80% of your time was also spent on the 20 per cent of activity that maintains and adds little value to what your stakeholders are demanding or our agreed key performance indicators (KPI’s) dictate?
Personal wellbeing, mental health and mindfulness demand a keen focus. But how can we boost our concentration when we are pulled in many directions?
To gain a high quality of focussed time we should learn to recognise and understand our own patterns of work. The gains of applying a focus to an activity, the gains associated with working with agility and the gains associated with using different tools make this an important aspect of your working life to master.
Let us think about the areas that we need to master so that we can increase our focus.
Is technology getting in the way of your focus?
We are continually interrupted by technology. It could be the latest update arriving through email, or slack, a social media post that could be of interest, a request that has arrived through your website or CDM (Customer Data Management) system. A text message has just landed to tell you your child is sick, or that someone has mentioned you in a post. Distractions indeed. Screen Education released “Digital Distraction & Workplace Safety” detailing the results of a survey conducted in the spring of this year, involving more than 1,000 US employees across industries. Overall, employees spend about 2.5 hours per day on average “accessing digital content” that is not related to their profession. Telecommuters noted a vast spectrum of digital distractions in the era of remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. About half of respondents (52%) said they were currently working from home more than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic. Within this particular group, 54% reported being in communication with their social circle and family members via phone, text, email, and social media more than usual (Source:TechRepublic).
Method: The most effective method to remove digital distraction is a digital detox – remove self from the digital environment for a period of time.
As our business activities have transitioned to our homes, the reality is that we now are the custodians of our environment. We define the clear desk policy, the filing systems we use (be it paper or digital), where we work in our home, our start and finish times (and this is an exciting option to think about) as well as the concerns associated with working from home. Children can become an issue as to how can they understand our closed door? Our first action is to establish habits or patterns in the way that we work.
Method: Michael Hyatt introduces us to rituals that we need to be completing at different times of the day. Think about what we need to do in the morning such as shower, breakfast, read and meditate – as we start work, we can introduce ourselves to our daily objectives, a run through emails, and engage in some social media activity. These ‘workday startup’ rituals set us up for the day – it provides the objectives, the must do’s. As we work through our dynamic day, we then close out with the reverse of the process. We consider activities we close the day down with. We clear down our emails – clean our desk and ensure that we are leaving so we can pick up as we want the next day.
As we have a large to-do list, we can jump from one thing to another. This multitasking is unproductive.
Method: Try using a system such as the Pomodoro method to engage in your must do’s. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a single objective. At 25 minutes – give yourself a 5-minute break. Repeat this 3 more times and then have a 30-minute break. You are likely to notice an increase in productivity and output.
Similarly, we need to have clearly defined objectives and plans. For instance, if you are attempting to get healthier but aren’t sure about what exercises you have to do to achieve this, or the food you should avoid you will be challenged to achieve your goals. There is evidence that adopting a plan, and then setting relevant goals that provide a small level of stretch can ensure your success.
Spending time planning and mapping our your actions will lead to great personal and business level returns. These plans then become the way you do things.
Method: Make SMART goals for what you are trying to achieve and introduce their review into your executive review of the week (an evaluation of your just gone workweek). Developing your own individual process to focus in on the micro and macro goal topics will act as a good tool to manage your focus.
The key is to look at and rethink what you have to do in a manner that fulfils your most noteworthy qualities and needs. If you trust you understand what your qualities and needs are, invest energy focusing on the outcomes you will accomplish by achieving your goals. This is significant when you’re figuring out how to improve focus.
Perhaps also treat yourself to a serving of dark chocolate 70%+ cacao or higher as this can also improve concentration (healthline.com).
Getting downtime is critical.
You are not a machine – you need to take some time away from your business. Similarly, whilst some leaders have suggested they survive on minimal sleep – evidence is now emerging that we need sleep to allow our bodies and minds to recover.
Method: Consider going for a walk, to have an at desk check-in with yourself or meditation. Get into a routine of active listening to your body – stop when it is telling you to, go faster when you feel good. Over the past month, I have done a lot of decorating.
Method: Ensure that you engage in a sleep ritual that works. Get the room to 18 degrees, remove caffeine from your diet, and adopt a no screens policy for at least an hour before going to sleep.
I love the painting – the rolling of the paint onto the walls is therapeutic and invites me to think of nothing. The process is repetitive and invites me to think eclectically – but similarly, I understand that as I get tired, there is a point when I cannot do a good job. This is the time to take that I need to step left and have some time out.
Work on growing clarity and building enough assets to make the strides. When you do this all, venturing forward will be simple, and energy will stream.
Method: spend time to develop your goals and objectives. Check-in regularly and invite them to regulate your schedules. We know that things happen that perhaps add little value but take time, but having a plan will ensure that you can stay engaged and effective.
Mindfulness is a buzzphrase at the moment. Individuals that have practised mindfulness see benefits not just for their businesses, but also to their mental health and productivity. Research is helping us to understand how meditation can diminish stress and uneasiness and improve ability to focus, connections, enthusiastic security, focus, and working memory limit. Meditation permits you to work on recovering focus. As you practice, you observe personal patterns and can apply corrections. The world, our bodies, and our psyches work in rhythms. Figure out how to practice your psyche and focus in that capacity. If you attempt to beat yourself intellectually into accommodation, you’re probably not going to win.
Method: Introduce mindfulness techniques into your day (using apps such as headspace and calm).
What should you do if you are stuck or are not sure where to start?
There is a lot to think about. Perhaps you may be thinking about where you should start? This is quite understandable.
You may be asking what individual approach should I adopt? Seems reasonable to me.
If so, get in touch and we can have a chat through how we can help.