- Watch Your Intake. Portion control is not only valuable in maintaining a healthy diet. It is crucial to prevent a bloated schedule and to do list. My temptation is over-consume information that I find interesting. But as fascinating as it might be, it can also serve as a distraction that prevents forward movement. The other danger is in consuming interesting facts, findings and information that do not really add value to your purpose. So make sure you are taking in the right stuff in the right quantities.
- Be Ruthless in Your Prioritizing. It's not just what we consume that can get out of hand. With everything that is going to compete for your attention and loyalty, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important while you are trying to do it all. You can't. So stop trying. This may require some uncomfortable conversations with people you care about and respect. But if you lose yourself in the requests and demands of others, you will very likely fall short of doing your best work on what is most important. Even if you are making everyone happy, doing mediocre work is no way to build a satisfying career or life. This is my greatest struggle.
- Take a Time Out. Don't wait for vacation. Do this daily. If at all possible, find a quiet place to go and unplug your brain for 15 - 20 minutes to allow it to reboot. There is real science behind this. Despite your best efforts to stay focused, your senses are taking in and attempting to process all kinds of intake every waking minute of the day. And sometimes, the hard drive freezes or gets a little glitchy. A quick reboot can dramatically increase your ability to focus and be more productive while keeping your sanity intact. This one is on my daily task list.
- Keep Yourself Connected. It does not matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Human beings are social creatures. All of us need connection. So stay connected to a few trusted colleagues or friends in whom you can confide and share your frustrations and struggles. And don't be afraid to ask for their perspective. They may see things you do not, either about your situation, or about you. This can get your focus off of what you may not recognize as distractions and back on the things that can move you forward.
- Regularly Reassess. You may be focused on all the right things all the time. But new days bring new realities and new challenges. What needed to be the object of your focus last month may not be the thing of greatest importance this month. So step back and take the thrity thousand foot view of your objectives and priorities to determine if what was working for you will continue to work, or if you need to realign your priorities to a new reality. Then you will be able to adjust your focus appropriately.
You may not struggle with any of these, but if one or two of them trip you up from time to time, it will be worth the effort to make the needed adjustments to help keep yourself focused on what's most important. Life is so much better when you have the confidence of knowing that your focus is sharp and you are not wasting your time and energy on things that do not really matter. Stay focused, and be encouraged!