Mastering the Art of Focus
Moving forward in a complex project work life with many different participants can feel like hard work at times. Each week leads to new challenges and complexities. This week I was reflecting on the art of focus and the need to be productive in the limited time I have.
Working on a portfolio of projects is like cooking a delicious meal i need to focus on the main dish and get the ingredients, temperature and composition just right. Sometimes the tendency is to rush things but I need to be purposeful and mindful of the best approach. There can be temptation to try and cut corners, but a better approach is to truly focus on the things that give greatest value.
It’s easy to fall victim to common mistakes that hinder our ability to focus effectively. We need to be purposefully productive through Mindful Work. This article looks at some common mistakes what the keys to focus are and then finally some practical steps to achieve them.
1. Work Longer:
Contrary to popular belief, working longer does not necessarily equate to increased productivity. The key lies in working smarter, not harder. It’s all too easy to let meeting flow in to another until you have a long list of to dos but no time to do any work!
Planning your day and setting clear boundaries between you business and personal life are key here.
While multitasking may seem like a time-saving strategy, it often leads to a lack of depth and quality in tasks. Focus on one thing at a time for optimal results. Several studies has shown how incapable we are of multi tasking.
It’s way better to focus on one key problem and solve that rather than half solving everything else.
3. Being Busy Without being productive:
Being busy for the sake of appearing productive is a common trap. True productivity is about achieving meaningful outcomes rather than filling your schedule.
I really like this video that summarises the difference between busy and productive people. The key is focus on the most important task alone until that is complete before addressing the next. Having a few focused projects and saying “No” to the rest is a good tactic.
Key to Focus:
1. Freedom to Do Nothing:
Embrace moments of stillness. Allowing your mind to rest can lead to increased clarity and focus when you return to tasks. We can’t be running fast all the time we need to take time to slow down and just enjoy a quiet moment of doing nothing.
One of the best things I do every day is take 30 minutes to go for a walk to clear my head and I find as I walk and think I actually come back to my desk with solutions to problems I’ve been blocked by.
Streamline your workload by identifying tasks that don’t contribute significantly to your goals and eliminate them. Productive people are effective in identifying what is the problem that requires their focused attention and concentrating on that until it is resolved. This means saying “No” to a lot of unnecessary tasks this keeps you from overcommitting. Focus on tasks where your skills and contributions truly add value.
2. Freedom to Play:
Incorporate leisure and play into your routine. It can stimulate creativity and provide a mental break, enhancing overall focus. The best part of my day is before or after work where I can focus my attention on things that I enjoy like exercise, reading and enjoying the nature around me.
Delegate or automate tasks that fall outside your expertise or passion. Concentrate on what you excel at to maximize productivity. In any project I see individuals that are gifted in certain tasks and the key is to give them the freedom to excel in those tasks while you focus on the tasks that you are passionate and good at. Today there are so many tools available to automate common tasks through AI.
Minimize distractions, especially in the digital realm. Combat the distraction economy by managing your email, limiting social media usage, and staying informed without falling prey to information overload.
3. Freedom to Be Creative:
Cultivate an environment that nurtures creativity. Creative thinking often leads to innovative solutions and a deeper sense of engagement with your work. I really enjoy writing this blog as it is a source of creativity and discovery as I think about better ways to do things and enjoy doing the projects I am doing.
Maintain a clutter-free and organized physical and digital workspace. This includes managing your email effectively and keeping your physical desk in order.
4. Freedom to Rejuvenate:
Prioritize self-care, including exercise and adequate rest. A rejuvenated mind and body are better equipped to handle challenges. The simple things in life like getting a good nights rest, eating well and exercising and spending times with loved ones is what rejuvenates me. Without that balance I can not focus on my work.
Establishing daily rituals and routines provides stability, helping you navigate various circumstances with a focused and composed mindset.
Organize your day around a set of priorities. Planning an ideal week in advance allows for strategic allocation of time and resources.
In conclusion, mastering the art of focus requires a deliberate effort to eliminate distractions, prioritize meaningful tasks, and create an environment conducive to concentration. By incorporating these principles into your daily routine, you can unlock the power of focus and propel yourself toward greater productivity and success.
Here are some books that inspired this article:
- The Power of Focus Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Laura Vanderkam
- Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less Michael Hyatt
- Singletasking: Get More Done One Thing at a Time Devora Zack