by Michael Darling
We were taking some key points from a book by Robert K. Cooper..and discussing “direction, not motion.”
Well, that takes an incredible amount of FOCUS, but not time .
Look at this way this way:
If you’re in an open well-illuminated room, you see details and find your way around the room easily. And, if there’s a steel door at the other end of the room, you see how to get there, the type of door handle and even how to open it.
But consider this… what if that big steel door is locked?
Well then, it doesn’t really matter how long time-wise the light is on in the room, you’re not getting through the door without a key. But, what if you could focus all the light in the room into a super-small beam of light — a laser? You could take that focused light and cut your way right through the door.
A little bit of sci-fi there, but I hope you get the point. It’s the power of FOCUS.
So, it’s confession time: I tend to spend a lot of time in front of the computer and in my office. Just being there makes my brain think I’m working, even if that’s not really the case. I spend a lot of time in the office “working,” often. But I’m truly not as focused as I could be. Sometimes I check email too often … or do important but not urgent tasks … instead of bearing down and focusing on the project that’s due next. That’s my ADD kicking in and I’ve talked before in these columns about the 20 minute program that works effectively for me, when I let it.
Everybody has their own way of doing it. We all know how to focus. Work in 30-minute intervals … no email … turn off social media … let the dishes sit … etc. The real trick, is simply deciding to actually focus.
Looking through Cooper’s book, here’s the kicker…
According to Dr. Cooper, to be effective, you must learn how to focus “in advance and [emphasis mine] as it unexpectedly appears.” What I think that means is that before you ever walk into your office or open your laptop, decide which project you will focus on … and for how long.
And, when unexpected things pop up, you must learn how to decide quickly whether or not to focus on the new situation or continue your work. That choice relates to the first point the book brought up, the direction you want to go.
For instance, if I am working on my annual reports and a school calls and needs something, do I stop my work and jump? For me, the answer may be a no or it may be a yes depending on the nature of the request , but mostly it would be a no. In fact, if I’m in my 20 minute cycle, my door is usually closed and staff knows me well enough to leave me alone. That way, the temptation is avoided to jump to a new project.
This is only possible because I decided in advance what was a priority and what deserved my focus at the moment. I am the only one who gets to decide who gets my focus. Period. Sound idealistic? Sound impossible? That’s for you to decide.
So What?! (ahh..there it is again…)
Here’s something practical you can do to increase focus. It’s something I’ve done for years. Try it this week to see if it helps you, too …
At the end of your work time, sit down and take five minutes to write out a list of five to six things you need to get done the next day. Not next week or next month. The next DAY.
Then, prioritize them. And, I mean actually write down the order in which they need to be done to get you moving in the direction you want to go. By doing this the night before, you give your subconscious brain a chance to start working on the list while you sleep.
And, it will be much easier to focus because you’ve already decided what needs to be done and in what order. Now, it’s just a matter of checking off the list.
Get Out of Your Own Way by Dr. Robert Cooper. His book outlines issues on Capacity, Energy and Impact…all with great lessons on how to live YOUR life better…
I recommend it heartily..
Thanks for reading…