This might seem like a simple topic, but it has tremendous potential depending on the system you are applying it to.
Focus means to put all your energy into doing one thing. When you do that, you become more productive and produce better quality work. Think about all the things you’re thinking about and working on. You probably pride yourself in being able to cover so many bases. And yes, we are pretty complex creatures with amazing brains and capabilities to do lots of stuff.
But the problem is that when we are trying to get a lot of things done at the same time, and we are switching back and forth between different projects, we lose our effectiveness on each task. Plus, we may have made progress on many things, but we haven’t finished any of them.
On the other hand, if we focus on one task, and work on it until it is done, then we’ve actually finished one task, and we can move on to the next one. With this method of linear, sequential completions, you are actually able to complete more projects in less amount of time than the multi-tasking method. Of course it depends on the complexity of the project or tasks, but as a general rule, this is true. And it especially holds true for corporations who have their knowledge workers running every which way trying to show progress on multiple projects for multiple bosses.
When an athlete is “in the zone” they are focused on one thing, and they perform it flawlessly. When they get distracted, they lose concentration and don’t perform well. The quality of our work will be much better also if we can focus our attention on the task at hand.
One of the reasons it is difficult to focus is because we have a hard time saying “no” to things that show up as needing to be done. Many times there is a false sense of urgency, so we want to alleviate that discomfort by at least starting to work on that thing. But in reality, if we are disciplined, and make wise judgements regarding the true priority of items, then we may be able to finish that item even quicker by having it wait its turn, but more importantly we will be accomplishing the things that are the highest priority or have the most value in our lives.
This doesn’t mean that our priorities can’t change in an instant. While I was writing this post, my son woke up crying because he wet his bed. I determined that taking care of his needs was more important than finishing this post, so I switched tasks, took care of him, and then switched back. When emergent issues arise, we need to be cognizant of the true priority and make wise decisions.
The point is that when we focus, by being more judicial in deciding what to work on, we can actually get more things done – the things that are most important to us – and accomplish them with a higher quality output.
It just takes practice.
“Focus power, Danielson!”