Workplace

You’ve gotta FOCUS, gosh darn it!

Focus-laserYour head is spinning. You’ve got a gazillion things going on and they’re all due NOW. Chances are, your desk is a mess. You’re trying to coordinate the loose ends before the program’s launch and swearing that – never again, will you ____. Except you find that 3 months later, you’re in the same situation.

Well, here’s an image that may help: You’re a laser, baby. Instead of being that overhead lamp which shines light everywhere into the room, dissipating it’s force (and at which everyone simply stares blankly as you’re trying to convey the urgency of the latest crisis), be a laser. Huh?

Let’s consider what a laser is: it’s light, but unlike the lamp, it’s really focused. With enough power, the light can do some serious cutting (or hair removal). It can point out things at far distances with great precision. The only way it can do these however, is by using only one wave length frequency (why laser pointers are a single color, like red) and not deviating from it’s intended path.

So how can you be focused like a laser?
1) Cut the distractions. 
Like, um… incessantly checking the social media sites. While this may replace gossiping around the water cooler, the result is the same: lack of productivity. For one thing, it sucks your time. For another, the distractions make you think about a lot of other things than the task at hand. Ever try doing your homework as a kid while watching television? It took about 5x longer than it needed to, because you weren’t focused on doing the material. Chances are the quality was poor too. And for the record, checking email incessantly can also be a distraction. Anything that disrupts the concentration on the task. Multi-tasking is a farce – you are just jumping from one task to another while never really giving anything or anyone your full attention. So give it up.

2) Have a clear vision of the end goal (and stay steadily focused on it).3ST block
In another post on envisioning, I mentioned the importance of looking to the end. If you focus on where you are currently, you’ll see nothing and get nowhere. If you look to where you want to be, the goals you want to accomplish, then you have to fixate on those and then you’ll be able to manifest them. If you run, you’ll notice that you run faster by looking ahead of you than right in front of your feet. You don’t worry about tripping, since you utilize your peripheral vision. So stay focused on the outcome you want and you’ll be able to better navigate the route to get there.

3) Don’t try to do everything, but emphasize doing those things you’re really good at.
You’ve heard of “jack of all trades, master of none.” If you are really going to be good at something, then you need to align your efforts to that end. Unfortunately, nonprofits often want employees to do a wide range of tasks, or the organization wants to branch off into new directions to follow programming dollars. This leads to position-creep and mission-creep. Stray too far and you won’t do much of anything effectively. In management parlance, you need to “stick to the knitting”: do what you do best.

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4) Be positive, as negativity will only bring the absence of success.
We have a habit of dwelling on the negative. But have you stepped back to notice that the more you focus and harp on something, the more present it seems? Well, this goes for positive things too. Focus on the good in people and often that’s what they’ll arise to manifest. Focus on another’s faults and that’s all you’ll see. So if you want results, focus your laser self on whatever positive strengths will move you toward that goal. You can’t do much about what you don’t have. Rather, make the most of the tools and resources that you do have and you’ll reach the goal with a lot less wasted energy, that otherwise would have been spent kvetching.

Do you have any suggestions for how to stay focused?

3 thoughts on “You’ve gotta FOCUS, gosh darn it!

  1. Pingback: Breaking it to your email: “I think we need more time apart.” | Collaborator Magazine

  2. Fully agree. Multi-tasking is fine for lots of little jobs but quite useless for more challenging tasks that require reflection, problem solving and considered judgement. The focus of the laser is the go! Thanks for reminding me as I look over today’s wide-ranging ‘do list’ with a critical eye…

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