From time to time we all find ourselves fighting to maintain our focus.
The era of distractions that we live in is one where hundreds, if not thousands of people, websites, companies & brands fight for our attention on a daily basis. Studies on the effectiveness of brand impressions prove that human-beings, now more than ever before are subjected to a constant barrage of information in the forms of billboards, radio, TV, newsletters, competitions, labels etc.
Adverts gently nudge us towards buying the ‘right’ soap, shoes, bags, smartphones, foods, airline tickets, appliances and even go to the extent of helping us choose the best hospitals,schools and cities to live in.
We read newspapers, listen to the radio, sms each other, send & receive emails from all over the world only to find that our minds are very rarely at peace because of the overload of information.The end-result is that most people find that all this information entering their minds through leaves them with less time to think, reflect & rejuvenate their mental energies.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, banker, engineer, manager,teacher or student rest assured that learning to master your focus is one of the most valuable tools you will ever possess. The practical steps below are effective,proven methods that have helped me greatly & continue to serve me well. They’re bound to help you find your focus fast. Practice them for a week at least.
1. Don’t read the newspaper for a full week. The same goes for news websites.
2. Unless it’s essential for your job/business cut-down on your social media interaction for a week. Don’t login to Facebook simply because you have nothing to do, the same goes for Twitter.
3. Turn off your Blackberry/push notifications except for essentials like reminders & alarms. Do you really need to be reading every broadcast that finds its way to you? You don’t need to be notified whenever your Facebook update gets a ‘like’. Simplify your life by simplifying your interactions.
4. Every day for a week, impose a tech-blackout from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. This means no internet, no smartphones or tablets and definitely no TV. Use this time to speak to your spouse, to read, to reflect on your life and refocus on your priorities.
5. Take part in conversations that will contribute to your progress. Don’t waste time & energy by discussing issues that have no relevance to your life.
6. Set aside a few minutes each day to review your plans for the next day. Keep your to-do list short yet effective. A list becomes useless if it focuses on issues that will bring you no closer to your goals. Being productive with your focus is just as important as being productive with your time.
7. Know the difference between ‘noise’ and ‘progress’. Cut-out noise from your life. Read :”The Difference between Noise & Progress”
8. If you receive email on your smartphone, configure your mailbox to only forward priority mail to your phone. You don’t really need to be notified every time an email lands in your inbox. You only need to be notified of the ones that require your attention. (i.e those that are worthy of your energies). Read: “How To: Protect Your Energy”
Tip:I use Gmail’s new inbox to ensure that I’m only notified of emails in the ‘Primary’ category. This is a good way to filter your email communications and helps maintain your focus by allowing you to pay attention to the issues that matter. By using this system, only the emails I need to work on are forwarded to my phone.
9. Keep business-related meetings short and focused. Too often, hours upon hours are spent at board, management & committee meetings which result in very much activity but little or no progress. If you don’t need to be at a meeting, don’t be there. Go out and build your dreams. Never attend a meeting without an agenda and a clear idea of what will be discussed and what is required of you.
10. Before you go to bed, forgive everyone who has ever hurt you. Replaying hurtful memories is one of the greatest threats to your power of focus. Life’s too short to hate, resent or plan for revenge. Forgive and get on with leading the best version of your life.
You owe it to yourself to lead a life you can be proud of!