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The Importance of Focus

A Story of Focus

“Hold that plank for one minute,” my trainer said.

“No problem,” I thought, because I have two hands and two feet on the ground.  

But then she told me to alternate bringing my knee to my chest, one at a time.

I tried it once and I thought I was going to topple over, but then I took a deep breath and began to focus on my actions.

Focusing helped me, because without it, I probably would have flopped to the ground.

So, what is it about focus that makes or breaks us?

In previous blog posts, I have talked about multitasking and how it takes away from our focus.

I’ve mentioned how sometimes we all need down time to focus on ourselves and even how to focus on nature as a way to de-stress.

Well, here are a few more tips that will show you how to focus and why it’s so important.

How Focusing Helps

Most executives are slammed each day. You are constantly going from meeting to phone call, and then back to more meetings.

You’re going non-stop, and it makes it near impossible to focus on anything, let alone complete a thought, compose an email, or work on a plan.

While planning for interruptions won’t eliminate them, shifting your focus to one thing you want to achieve and keeping your full attention on that each day can really make a difference.

Focus can help you prioritize and get the energy to:

  1. Tackle that difficult problem

  2. Start that long letter

  3. Plan your difficult conversation

Whether you have learned focus through martial arts, yoga or band, go back to what you learned and apply it to your everyday life.

Breathe through the pain, block out the distractions, and do whatever you need to do to help you calm your mind and stay on track.

Working out can be a good metaphor here because when we are doing a challenging exercise or lifting weights, it helps to gaze at that spot on the wall and just calm your mind and focus on breathing.

Some quick tips for staying focused on your goal:

  1. To stay focused on your goal, you must first create that goal.

  2. Plan for interruptions. Give yourself a five-minute (or longer) break between meetings. Build time in for a recharge walk or water break. Running from one meeting to another is a surefire way to be ineffective and unfocused.

  3. Anticipate which obstacles will show up and figure out how to work around them. For example, if you know you cannot focus for more than 30 minutes on writing, break it into four 15-minute chunks of time—don’t try to block out the entire hour.

For some people, blocking out an hour will work just fine, but it’s important to know your work style. Remind yourself why you are working toward that goal. The best focus for some people is the end result:

  1. A healthy body

  2. A presentation well done

  3. A successful conversation

Sometimes, imagining the end result will help push you through to success.

  1. Set daily, weekly, or even monthly goals. This can help you roll with the interruptions instead of getting derailed when one interruption sets you off course.

  2. Borrow a sports training tip and learn what not to pay attention to. Try to implement some tunnel vision and pay attention only to what you need to notice.

  3. Take breaks and try not to blend work with other activities. That way, when you’re working, you are fully there, and when you’re at home, you’re fully there too.

Setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life will allow you to be more focused in both areas.

For example: Don’t read emails while watching a movie with your kids, because they will know you are not fully focused and in the moment.

Instead, be present and enjoy the movie with them, make comments, and get fully engaged!

How do you stay focused on your daily tasks? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

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