How To Focus

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As mentioned previously, most of my posts are written in response to questions I receive from fans/listeners of The Learning Leader Show. Below are my answers to some really thoughtful questions on focus. If you'd like to email me a question, send to Ryan at LearningLeader dot com. Okay, here we go...

Q: I would love to understand more how you personally or how you think others define focus in their life. Not so much, what they focus on, but how they outline the scope of their focus and to what level then drop down to optimize their ‘sub-level of focus’

A: This question elicits some questions: What are your priorities? What’s most important? Which action(s) will lead to the most important output? What tasks need to be done to achieve that output? We must set the most important priorities. Fun fact: Before 1940, the word priority was not used in the plural form. There was only THE priority. And that was it. Thinking of it in that sense, it can be helpful to sequentially complete THE priority and then set the next one and complete it. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. 

Our mindset should always be about output and value. Useful questions to ask: “Am I effective?” “Why does this matter?” “If I’m doing this, what am I saying no to?” “What is the output of these actions?” Peter Drucker talks about this in The Effective Executive.

Q: How do leaders maintain a focus without becoming narrow or short sided and all while growing in various aspects of their life to continue to improve themselves and those around them? 

A: Blocking time every day for Deep Work. “Deep Work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.” Put this on your calendar as the most important meeting of the day. You only cancel if your wife calls with an emergency. Put the phone on airplane mode, shut down email, and focus on that singular task. You decide which task is most important/useful. Note** -- Not the task that’s most urgent, but the one that is most important. Some days, this will simply be reading a book.

I recently spoke with James Clear about this and he shared an excerpt of his new book, Atomic Habits. This is what he said about focus: “If you want to become significantly better at anything,you have to fall in love with the process of doing it. You have to fall in love with building the identity of someone who does the work, rather than merely dreaming about the results that you want.” 

Q: Are there frameworks or processes that you have used or know of which I could follow to help me identify / define my own focus and then lay out the strategy and systems to stay on course?

A: Some ideas: A handwritten “To Do” list. Old fashioned, but lots of people do it because it’s helpful. — Note - Do not just keep adding to the list. It is important to “knock out” items to make and feel progress.

Additional action step: Write down everything you do during the day. Keep track for a week. What are you spending time on? Analyze how often you get sidetracked and lose focus. What triggers you to lose focus? Side note: This is also helpful if you need/want to make a change in your diet. Write down what you eat/drink for that week. It’s an eye opening experience and you’ll learn a lot.

You can read the full article and a few other ideas HERE

I am happy to have a conversation about specific questions related to this blog. Please fill out the contact form below.

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