If asked, what is the one defining quality that sets great leaders apart from their wannabe counterparts, it would have to be their ability to maintain focus on the important issues.
Sure, once behind closed doors, even the most successful leaders probably have moments of indecision, procrastination and uncertainty, but even the sharpest minds need to take a break occasionally.
Here are 11 Guidelines for Staying Focused
The power of focus lies in your ability to distinguish the urgent from the important; and concentrate your energy on the important.
Here are some guidelines to help re-direct your focus and prioritize getting the important things done first.
- Write down the important tasks you have set yourself for the day. These are the results-driven projects that require your complete focus.
Prioritize those tasks according to their importance, as they relate to goal achievement, and then plan a strategy for completing the most important task first.
Visualize the entire process and how it will look once it’s completed. Keep that image at the front of your mind.
- Clear your desk of everything except the important project you are working on. If necessary, make a pile of paperwork on the floor. You can always pick it up once your important task is completed.
- Block out a time in your daily schedule to attend to the urgent matters. Most of us find we are at out lowest ebb early in the afternoon, so this is an ideal time to take care of anything “urgent”.
- Don’t answer the phone. Imagine you are in a meeting and can’t be interrupted.
- Turn off your email client and shut down the automatic email notification system.
- Turn off your cell phone or shift the ring tone to “silent”.
- Close down any programs on your computer that could cause you to become distracted. Remember to turn off RSS feeds.
- Close the door to your office. If you work in an open plan space where there is a lot of noise around you, consider buying a pair of ear plugs.
- Work attentively. If you find yourself getting distracted, re-visualize the project in your head and the action steps necessary to complete it.
10. Take regular breaks. Very few of us can remain focused for long periods of time without losing the plot, so take a 5 to 10 minute break every hour.
If you sit at a desk, get up, stretch your legs and take a few deep breaths, do some sit-ups, or push-ups or take a walk around the inside of the office. If you have been working on a computer, re-train your eyes to focus on middle to long distance objects. This helps avoid eye strain.
11. When you have successfully completed one of your important projects, give yourself an imaginary pat on the back for a job well done!
Staying focused requires effort and determination, but like any project we want to achieve, perfect practice makes perfect!