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Focus Focus Focus

Recently I had a meeting with a potential client who needed help maintaining focus on her business. In the end she chose another coach ‘because he focused on focus’. Which I thought was a nice marketing angle on the basis that picking a coach because their speciality is focus is akin to picking a doctor ‘because they deal with health’.

Maintaining focus is probably in the top three of any coach’s topics they are working with their clients on (although people often confuse focus and procrastination but I’ll leave that for another article).

So here is my take on laser focus.

Get the basics right first.

That means take control of your time and your environment. If you think you can stayed focused with the kids running around, when the UPS man is due, WhatsApp is chiming then you’ve already set yourself up to fail.

You need to be a Time Nazi. Yep, get selfish with your time, never give it away unless you can see a clear benefit to you. This may involve some serious stepping outside your comfort zone if y9ou are a ‘always there for you’, ‘always willing to help’ ‘can’t say no’ kinda person.

Saying no key, it is THE no 1 skill for staying focused for keeping control of your time. Yes, it may (will!) cause raised eyebrows (or worse) but if you explain why you are saying no the people that care about you will ‘get it’. No is an essential habit, develop it!

Find yourself a physical location that works for you. Somewhere you don’t know anybody and that nobody associates with you – go undercover! Then go off grid – this is the tough one. Turn your phone off. Not silent. Off. Even better leave it at home although there are practical reasons this may not be possible.

Now you are alone and uncontactable. Then what? Make a to do list of everything big, small, work, personal. Most can come up with 20-25 in no time.

Then ask yourself, “Does this really need to be done in the next week?”. If not cross it off.

Next question; ask yourself, “Do I need to do it or does it just need to be done?”. If it just needs to be done hive it off to a separate list for later.

Chances are you have already reduced your list by 75%. Let’s say there are 6 tasks left. Pick 2. But what about the other 4!?

Focus is like any other skill. You need to learn how to do it and you need to do it often to get good at it. Forcing yourself to pick 2 is training yourself to prioritise. Nobody is saying the other 4 aren’t important, but it makes you to acknowledge your time is limited and completing 2 tasks well trumps starting 6 and not finishing any of them. Or doing a half-arsed job on them.

The other big mistake is setting outcome based goals; ie. My aim is to complete XXXX by Friday.


But on its own that is unlikely to give you the result you want. The most important step is to then set action based goals; my aim is to complete XXX by Friday which means in the next 15 mins (yes really! Often the most daunting part is starting something and the rest flows) I will have XXXX, in one hour I will have achieved XXXX, by lunchtime I will have achieved XXXX and by the end of today XXXX.

Focus is like anything else. It waxes and wanes. You have a finite amount of it. Be kind to yourself, recognise when you do your best work and save the important ‘focus heavy’ tasks until then.

One final point. SO much can be farmed out or delegated to technology. You may want to try the Chrome Momentum Extension a nice simple tool that is purely designed to help you stay focused


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