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. Can you imagine Leonardo DaVinci creating the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper while being constantly interrupted? There is no way we can say that the great masters engaged in multitasking, because reputable research has shown how disruptive multitasking can be when you’re trying to complete something. It’s obvious, successful masters had the unsurmountable ability to focus on one project at a time.
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 as 15 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! Especially if you’re working on something with serious implications. Prepare now to eliminate multitasking from your activities if you want to be successful as you build your business.
Lin Yutang, writer, philosopher and inventor.
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.
Several 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? If so, more than likely, you’re finding delight as you work on your business.
2. Design personal surroundings 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 in the background. Your system for focusing will be unique to you. Prepare your surroundings so they will be comfortable and motivating.
“You can achieve anything you desire, but not EVERYTHING you desire. Concentrate your efforts and your energy on just a few.” Michael Angier author and founder of SuccessNet
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.
Many authorities suggest making a list every evening or morning of the things you would like to accomplish for the day. When doing this, you will put the most important tasks first. Then, complete the tasks one by one. This is what many highly successful people do.
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. I noticed Iphone has a tracker on it now to let you know how time you are actually spending on social media.. This could really be helpful.
5. Train your brain to focus. Realize that might be what you 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 might take some time. Your commitment to focus will help you develop a habit of focus. Practice concentration exercises. See: 11 exercises to Improve concentration. by Brett and Kate Mckay You tube. Excellent!
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 that what you’re working on is important. Otherwise, concentration exercises may help. For example, keep a list of ideas that pop into your mind that you might want to do a goggle search on. Do this instead of instantly goggling each new thought. (I need to work on this one!) The information is out there and I want answers. But listing things to look up as you go is a great thing to do rather than instantly goggling something when you’re trying to complete a task. You could easily get way off track.
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 people know ‘why’, they are more likely to help you.
8. Commit to do something toward your purpose/mission every day. Sometimes the simple act of making a list of what you want to do and setting priorities works. As you make some accomplishments toward your purpose/mission, 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. I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to emphasize it again. 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. You can also have actual facts to measure your real progress by.
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 so you won’t waste time. It’s also a good motivator to keep you going.
12. Have excellence as your goal, not mediocrity. There’s something about aiming for excellence that energizes us. 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 move ahead. You can also reevaluate the time it took to get to the successful state and determine if the process you’re using should be adjusted or continued. Reviewing the past performance helps in many ways.
14. Reserve some of your focusing time for deep planning or big vision designing. This activity will also help you to clarify or describe with more specifics what your future state will be. This helps sustain the motivation you need to accomplish big things. A big vision will pull you toward grand accomplishments.
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, an inspirational Speaker and author.
“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.” This relates to the principle of Simplicity described in my podcast #6 on one of the Super Values of highly successful companies.
In conclusion, Dave Ramsey pointed to some compelling 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.