Learning to Focus

imagesReal Life Experience Today:

I arrived to my office, where I’m patiently waiting on an internet technician to show up to fix a problem. While driving to my office, I made a list of the things I needed to accomplish this morning. When I arrived at my desk, I immediately began trying to do them ALL. 7 things at the same time: I was planning the rest of my week and confirming appointments, I was working on an expense report for my office, I was reading through minutes from a meeting last week, I was making coffee and picking up my office, I was texting with one of my kids, I was cleaning off my email, I was listening to a podcast on my phone.  All of this happened between 8:00am and 9:00am today. Of course, I wasn’t able to finish any of these. It’s now 9:00am and I’ve done some of these things, but I haven’t finished any of them.

Do you do this sometimes? Do you eventually realize what you’re doing and stop and adjust?

After an hour of trying to do all of this, I stopped. I caught myself. I realized that I had fallen prey again to living my life without focus, without priorities, without a plan.

So, I stopped each of those 7 things, and am now writing this thought down while it’s fresh.

I used to not catch it. I would work for hours this way then at the end of the day I’d be frustrated that I hadn’t gotten enough done.

Now I’ve learned that I have to catch myself and I have to FOCUS.  I guarantee that I’ll be able to work through all 7 of these things over the next few hours if I focus on them one at a time. I’ll then be able to address some of the projects and priorities I have for the rest of the day and the rest of the week.

So… here’s how I handle this:

*BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS.  In my case, turn off the podcast, finish the text, get my coffee ready, schedule a time to clean the office.

*DO WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT. I just returned from a weekend meeting, so I need to do my expense report and work through meeting minutes. I do this best while things are fresh. If I wait a couple of days, I might forget some things. This morning, it’s fresh and I want to work through this before addressing other things.

*MAKE A LIST & SCHEDULE APPOINTMENTS. I have found that when I can write things down that need to get done, it helps me focus and prioritize. I also schedule appointments with myself throughout the week to address projects. This allows me to set that aside until the appointed block of time. Example: I’m working on a leadership event that’s coming up in 3 weeks. I scheduled a 2-hour block on Tuesday of this week to solely focus on this. I don’t have to think about it again until that time.

*GET ORGANIZED. For me, to get my best work done, I must have things in order. This means that I’ve responded to pending email from last week. This means that I get my office picked up and work through my mail. This means that I block out some personal time this week to work-out, to do some projects at home, to connect with my family, to pay bills. Until I have this week organized, I have a difficult time focusing.

*DISCIPLINE MYSELF. I have to work at being focused. It’s doesn’t come naturally. When the phone rings, sometimes I have to ignore it so I can finish the thought or the task I’m in the middle of. When a link pops up on Twitter or Email, I have to work at not clicking on it, realizing that it will absorb time and distract me, even if it’s funny or insightful. I have to work at being focused!

Now, it’s time to get back to my list.

I caught myself. I’ve identified the issues. I’ve shared this process with you.

Let’s get back to work.

For More On FOCUS

Russ Cline has wide experience in church, mission, and global leadership. Beginning in the local church in Southern California, then moving to Ecuador for 16 years to be a part of launching three distinct organizations, Russ is now back in Southern California working with Extreme Response International in providing leadership coaching and organizational development to leaders around the world. Russ' passion is to come alongside organizations and to help them identify areas of growth, focus and change, resulting in greater impact and effectiveness. Russ graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Business and Christian Education and completed his graduate work in Organizational Development. He has been married for 29 years to Gina, and they have three kids: Rheanna, Riley and Raylin. Write directly to Russ at: rcline@extremeresponse.org www.extremeresponse.org www.leadermundial.org twitter: leadonesource, leadermundial

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