I’ve been talking a lot lately about staying focused in our ever-distracted world. Today, I want to share some of my tried-and-true strategies with you for establishing and maintaining focus.
It’s easier than you think, and getting started is as easy as following the steps I’ve outlined below.
Establish Focus Now
- Keep a list to monitor where you are spending your time. You really don’t need any special tool to do this – even a simple written outline or paper calendar can help you figure out where you’re spending your time. I personally recommend three resources that can help you with this (click here to read about them).
- Identify what tasks have been stuck on your to-do list. I talk a lot about this because it’s a vital step in establishing focus and taking control of your life and business. What tasks have been floating around your to-do list forever? Which ones keep getting put off..and put off…and put off some more? Which ones do you love to do – and which do you avoid because you dislike them?
- Recognize what you’re prioritizing vs. what you’re procrastinating (in addition to your feeling around tasks). Do you know that “busy” is really a secret code for “That’s not important to me right now”? I know …you probably don’t want to hear that – but it’s true. In addition to recognizing what you prioritize (and what you put off), explore your feelings around those tasks. The key is to be honest with yourself about how you really feel.
Once you have a better understanding of how you’re spending your time, what’s on your to-do list, and what (and why) you’re prioritizing some things and procrastinating with others, it’s time to…
…Get Your Priorities in Order!
The infamous Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, outlined a simple method virtually anyone can use to organize and manage time more effectively.
In the table below, you’ll see four separate quadrants. Each one represents a specific type of urgency and importance as explained. Now that you have an outline of the tasks you do, you can organize them using this method.
Quad 1: This is for your most critical, time-sensitive, pressing priorities…you know, the ones you gotta get done pronto.
Quad 2: This is for your long-term priorities – these are still important, but there isn’t that sense of deadline-based urgency to accomplish these priorities in the immediate future.
Quad 3: This can be a tough one for many people because in this quadrant, you have time-sensitive priorities, but they really aren’t that important, unlike the ones in Quad 1.
Quad 4: Self-explanatory, this quad is for activities that are neither urgent or important.
|IMPORTANT||Quad 1: Urgent AND Important||Quad 2: NOT Urgent and Important|
|NOT IMPORTANT||Quad 3: Urgent & NOT Important||Quad 4: NOT Urgent and NOT IMPORTANT|
Here’s my bonus tip for you: As you’re organizing and prioritizing, one of the most important questions you can ask is:
Am I doing this to make myself happy – or to please others?
As you can imagine, your answer to this will help you deepen your understanding of how to best spend your time and manage your priorities.
What’s your #1 tip for establishing (and maintaining) focus? I want to know!