What is Focus?
Focus is when you concentrate or put your attention on something. In today’s world, there are many things competing for our focus. Work, kids, notifications, social media, games, parents, pets, etc. Many of these things are necessary, and some are distractions. What sorts of things grab your attention? What are some strategies that you employ to keep your focus on things that are important and minimize distractions?
Day and age of distractions
As humans, especially in a day and age of technology, we often can get distracted by non-essential things. My daughter has her focus on one thing and one thing only: her iPad. Unfortunately, there are many other things that I would rather she focus on, so we have a saying: “Do what needs to be done before you do what wants to be done.” Brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to school, play the piano, do your homework, attend practice, and eat dinner and then you can play on your iPad.
Admittedly, I sometimes have to do the same. When I get distracted by apps on my own phone, calls, emails, texts, or even a thought in my head that makes me want to research things, like why can kids not focus, when I should be searching for why can’t humans focus?
It reminds me of the movie, “The Social Dilemma.” The film reveals that most of the games and social media we know so well have been invented in the past 10-20 years and actually incorporate things that help us focus on them, based on some behavioral psychology courses taught at Stanford.
Maybe we could harness this idea to help us focus on what needs to get done in our daily life, as opposed to how many aliens we can kill, blocks we can destroy, gems we can link, or likes on our blogs and posts, or pictures we post. I believe this proves that the ability to focus is limited. What do we do about that? I found this video the other day and used it to talk about rocks for a company the other day.
Focus and the rock analogy
Essentially, rocks are Imperatives. Now, let’s apply this analogy if you’re a business owner. Rocks are the essential things in your life and things that need to get done to help your business grow. Next is the gravel. Gravel is the things that are less essential and are tasks that need to be executed for your business to run because your company needs to be making money to pay the bills. Finally, there is the sand, which represents hassles, interruptions, and other things that take up your time while creating friction and may even keep you from getting the important (rocks) things done in your day-to-day.
Important vs. Urgency
Another way of looking at this would be to graph the things you do in your day, week, and month and figure out which of the boxes below you spend most of your time in?
If I can spend most of my time in the green box, then I am likely not getting too many things in my red box. If I spend most of my time in the black box, I probably have a lot to do in the red and blue boxes.
Remember, the rocks are the essential things in your life and business. When you focus on working on the important things with a plan for decomposing larger goals into smaller tasks to complete work, this can help you minimize the red. That to me is something I call focus.
In our last blog, we talked about vision and visionaries. One of the best ways to create a vision is to figure out what you want your future state to look like, then create a focused plan to make it happen.
With the plan, you need to focus your effort on executing it as opposed to making decisions that pull you away from your plan.
In EOS, (Traction), how you should review and reset your plan every 90 days because human beings tend to start to drift by this point. In addition, the utility of frequent meetings (weekly) keeps people accountable and focused on getting important stuff done.
But the Distractions…
In the video, you notice the things that keep filling up the time, are smaller than rocks, the gravel, and the sand. Maybe it’s the liquid mud that are the distractions that we spend too much time with and return almost no value to us. The social media, the video games, etc. It’s not that these things are not enjoyable or valuable to keep abreast of, but the concept of putting first things first and focusing on what needs to be done vs. what wants to be done is also important. Just like my daughter’s iPad, look at these things as extra rewards for completing the “rock” tasks that you need to get done.
Another idea is to silence your notifications on your computer and your phone. This can help keep your focus on the task at hand and not be pulled into other things that are not as critical. I have one friend who removed all apps from her phone that distracted her and left all her social media and games on her tablet, which she could then decide when she wanted to use those things, but would switch devices. There is also a new phone, the Light Phone, which comes, pre-unloaded. Free of distracting apps, and with no way to add any to it.
Tackship Consulting Can Help
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