In this age and day of digital technology and instant information, I can be working on a file on my laptop, and a dialogue box will pop up, alerting me that I’ve just received an email. Even while driving, my mobile phone will vibrate, indicating that someone has sent me a new voice message. My Google News home page will share the latest news headline before I’m home to see it on my TV. Even though I desperately attempt to go green along with the rest of society, my home office will still look like the blizzard of ’78 hit it if I’m not careful. Papers, information, and tasks are continually coming at me, and I often find it challenging to focus. One of the things I love to focus on is writing these inspiring leadership pieces, but my life keeps getting in the way.
How, then, can I, or let’s generalize it to how, then, do we cultivate the skill to focus on things that are relevant to us but that we never appear to have sufficient time to do?
- Streamline info: No one has a right to my email address; most certainly not the retail assistant at the department store’s checkout counter: meticulously select which contact information and cell phone number(s) you wish to give out. I wouldn’t say I like being called on my phone at all types of odd hours or when I’m buying fresh veggies at the supermarket. People who have my number know that, and so I am not disturbed by random people calling me at odd times. Be picky when it comes to sharing your contact details, or else your focus will be gone for a toss with numerous sales pitches and other irritating phone calls butchering you every day.
- De-clutter: De-clutter your world, electronically and offline. Purchase that laundry bin that’s going to pre-sort your clothes’ textures and colors. Clean your useless email from since the start of humanity-it’s been accumulating for almost two decades now. Create that filing system and shred your recyclable, outdated, sensitive documents. Use summer downtime to handle last winter’s overdue projects that piled up on the back burner so that when fall arrives, your life is finally clear.
- Prioritize: Okay, all you achievers out there with chores piled up to your eyeballs-decide what you were made to do and concentrate on doing just that as opposed to dancing all over the globe. Sometimes, stop the presses on arranging what you have to arrange, and do what you crave and want to do. Even as I pen this, I have laundry and dishes piled up, but I’ve been procrastinating writing this piece (which gives me sadistic pleasure) for days now, and so I’ll tend to domestic tasks when I’m done with my writing here. Hours of random scattershot multi-tasking are nowhere near equal to one hour of intense focus on something significant.
So, if you want to cultivate the ability to focus, all you need to do is streamline information and be selective, de-clutter your world, both offline and electronically, and prioritize what you have to do first rather than randomly multitasking.