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Focus for Success

Posted by Aubrey Warren on 7 September 2016
Focus for Success
It's probably not surprising that one of the most high-value and important principles of productivty and performance is also one of the most challenging.

Focus is the "open secret" to improving performance and productivity. But in the context of our information-overloaded, constant interruption and fractured attention working environments it's hard to maintain. Which is why it's important to .. focus on it.

Over five years, the Gensler organisation surveyed 90,000 people from 155 companies across 10 industries and found that "the most significant factor in workplace effectiveness is not collaboration, it's individual focus work. And we also found that focus is also the workplace environment's least effectively supported activity".

Writing in Manage your day-to-day, Scott Belsky notes that "The biggest problem we face today is 'reactionary workflow' ... we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us."

So, here are four suggestions for finding focus for success ...

Focus on what matters most
It's the old "prioritise" principle, "first things first", the "important over the urgent". Easy to say, harder to do. But not impossible. And the first step is to assess what's on your plate and what matters most. Some experts advise doing the "worst thing first" - as in, the toughest task. Others suggest blocking out time at the start of the day to do the most important things. That usually means not checking email first (because it too easily distracts us with easy / urgent things at the expense of the high-value activities).

Focusing on what matters most begins, not surprisingly, with some disciplined focus on what it is that matters most. You might think of it as radiating circles: the most important things are at the centre; next most important in the next circle out; and so on. Where are you spending most of your time? Where do you spend your best, most creative time of the day? Where could you shift your focus even incrementally for better results?

Your focus determines your reality.

Focus with blocks of time
As noted earlier, we all face the everyday challenge of too many things coming at us. But if we try to do everything - especially if we are just reacting to everything- we end up doing nothing. That's why it's so easy to finish a day wondering what we actually accomplished.

Give yourself permission and space to focus. Put it in the calendar. Book a meeting room. Get out of the office. Even if it's just for 30 minutes, it's important to make time and space for important things. After all, we easily make space for unimportant things. It's amazing how much you can get done once you are able to get lost in a task for a reasonable space of time. And it's amazing to discover the quality and depth our work can produce when we focus our and attention in dedicated blocks of time.

If you don't focus your time, someone else will focus it for you.

Focus attention in your conversations
One of the hazards of our busy, constantly-interrupted, always-connected lives is that we often fail to be fully present in the moment. In meetings we see people doing email, in conversations we observe distracted looks at phones, in conversation we note the fact that people aren't really paying attention. And the result is we don't really connect. We live with "continuous partial attention" and miss the rich engagement that is key to productive, creative and purposeful collaboration. It's true at home as well as at work.

You can only be where you are; you can't be anywhere else. So you may as well show up completely in the conversation you're in.

Focus on the development of those you lead
The heart of the Situational Leadership® model is a focus on enabling others' development. It's about diagnosing where their current performance is for a task, and what the next level is. It's about engaging with them to provide the direction and/or support they need to be successful. That takes focus. Focus on the task, focus on the performance. Focus on our behaviour in engaging with them to enable development. It can't happen in a distracted or disconnected way. It takes focus.

Your focus enables those you lead to be more successful.

A focus on success is a day-by-day, conversation-by-conversation, and task-by-task process. Because to be successful we have to focus ...

Connect. Communicate. Collaborate.
With Influence 3.
© Aubrey Warren, Influence 3, 2016. www.influence3.com.au
Author:Aubrey WarrenConnect via:LinkedIn

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