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Have you ever considered how the great masters contributed so much to our world? Think about beautiful art, grand buildings or great scientific discoveries. How did they get these things completed? Can you imagine these contributors being constantly interrupted by phones, emails, social media alerts or people with unrelated agendas? This would require the ability to multitask, the action many of us take on a daily basis. There is no way we can conclude that the great masters multitasked, because reputable research has shown how disruptive to accomplishment multitasking can be. It’s obvious, successful masters had the unsurmountable ability to focus. 

We are a population of multitaskers. Travis Bradberry in “Multitasker? It might be time to break the Habit” wrote “Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” He also reported that multitasking affected your IQ tremendously. It lowered the IQ sometimes as much as15 points. He says this is about the IQ of an 8 year old child. Can an 8 year old child build your growing business? I don’t think so. One of the most important effects of multitasking is it decreases your ability to pay attention to detail. This could be disastrous! Prepare now to eliminate multitasking from your activities, particularly if you want to be successful as you build your business.

Jeffrey Hayzlett in ”Why Focus Is The Number One Element of Business Success” stated “As a business leader trying to think big and act bigger, if you don’t relentlessly focus that ownership on what drives your business, create a culture that reflects who you are, and stay grounded as you make things happen, you’ll never see the true rewards of thinking big and acting bigger.” In other words, important business matters must be top of mind and given adequate attention. This is easier if your business purpose/mission is meaningful to you and you’re committed to it’s success. If you aren’t, you may be in the wrong profession or business.

Some ways to focus were offered by Dave Ramsey in “10 Tips to Maintain Focus.” I have interpreted some of Dave’s suggestions as well as others to make this list of 14 guides for developing the valuable habit of focus.

1. As related earlier, make sure your business purpose is meaningful to you.  If you are building a business that you really enjoy this will give you a great foundation for sustained focus. Are you excited about the contribution you can make to your industry? Have you discovered an exciting innovation to enhance, deliver, simplify or otherwise improve a product or service?

2. Design a personal system for achieving your goals. This will be unique to you. Some work in the mornings and some work better in the evenings. Some need complete silence for work while others like to have music playing the background. Your system for focusing will be unique to you.

“You can achieve anything you desire, but not EVERYTHING you desire. Concentrate your efforts and your energy on just a few.” Michael Angier

3. Create an objectives list. Understand where you are in the business building process and focus on what your next move should be. Create goals and objectives to get you to the next building point.

4. Set certain times of day to check social media. Its often necessary to check your social media to stay abreast of things that affect you. You can set aside a certain amount of time to complete social media tasks and don’t return to them until your major goals/tasks are completed.

5. Train your brain to focus. Know that is what you will need to do. Our brains have been trained to respond to a vast amount of stimuli in our technological environment. Therefore, we need to retrain our brains to focus. This will take some time. Your commitment to focus will help you develop a habit of focus. Practice concentration exercises.

6. Consciously ignore interruptions. This is a hard one. Your environment will play a big part in your ability to ignore interruptions. Plus, you must always make ignoring interruptions a conscious choice. If interruptions are from other people, kindly say, not now, or tell them this is important working time for you. Otherwise, concentration exercise will help.

7. Strengthen your support. Involve others in your goal. Let others around you know about your need to focus and how it can benefit everyone involved. If others know ‘why’, they are more likely to help you.

8. Do something toward your purpose/mission every day. Sometimes the simple act of making a list of what you want to do and prioritizing it works. As you make some accomplishments toward your purpose/misson, you will notice that your knowledge of your industry gets deeper and deeper. You come closer to becoming an expert. The internet makes it easy to stay up to date on what’s happening in your chosen industry.

10. Choose a task and complete it fully. Multitasking has helped us lose the valuable ability to focus. So, we must deliberately intend to work on one task at a time. If you have prioritized your objectives, you can systematically choose one aspect of an objective to work on until completed. Doing this will give you satisfaction and motivation to continue.

11. Learn something new about your objectives everyday. Put time in your daily ritual to research your industry and check on what’s new. This will help you determine the relevance of your objectives and motivate you to keep going.

12. Have excellence as your goal, not mediocrity. Aiming for excellence is motivating because it helps you to pay attention to detail. Paying attention to detail demands intense focus.

13. Keep track of your successes. Reviewing the past helps you realize the results and the value of your focus and encourages you to keep going. You can also reevaluate the time it took to get to the successful state and determine if the process should continue.

14. Reserve some of your focusing time for deep planning or big vision designing. This activity will also help you to sustain the motivation you need to accomplish big things. A big vision will pull you toward it.

Martin Boeddeker in “Powerful Productivity Approach from Jurassic Park” describes the inability to focus as the “Butterfly Effect”- a small change at one place in a complex system can lead to huge disasters in another place. He suggests that we avoid this effect by going the way of the Essentialist promoted by Greg McKeown.

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.” Greg McKeown

In conclusion, Dave Ramsey pointed to some obvious benefits of acquiring the ability to focus.

“Instead of coming home each evening exhausted and wondering where the day went, you’ll soon be feeling that you’ve accomplished more than you could have ever imagined. That’s the power of focus. It can literally transform your business and rock your world.” Dave Ramsey

Commit to developing and maintaining the focus that will grow and fortify your business.

See also: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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