Foundations of Personal Growth: Focus

February 4, 2013

You can read Part 1 of this series discussing Critical Thinking here.

Personal growth must be intentional and the ability to focus is one of the foundations to growth.

Today we have more information flowing to us than at any point in the history of mankind. We are bombarded by opportunities for interruptions.  The myth of multitasking keeps us deceived into thinking we are accomplishing more. If we were really honest with ourselves we would admit to being busy but not making progress towards goals – if we have any.

Mono-tasking is making a strong comeback. But even if we create time to focus, most of us have lost the mental muscles to concentrate on one thing at a time. When I focus, the quality of my work improves and shockingly I can get more done. More importantly, I feel good about my work.  I have a sense of accomplishment. Having pride in my work means more than hitting a deadline.

What can help you focus?

Forget about managing information and think about managing your attention.

We let our attention run amok.  There are tons of books on working smarter not harder and the essence can be summed up with manage your attention. What will you give your attention to?

Dedicate time to answering email.

On the job, I answer email 3 times a day.  I have email up all day, but turn off the sound so I’m not distracted by the constant chime of incoming email.

Turn off the phones.

I turn off the ringer to my desk phone and put my cell phone on vibrate while in meetings and if I’m working on a specific task.  I can quickly complete a task without the interruptions or be more engaged in a meeting without the distraction of checking my phone. I’m also amazed at how many things will get worked out without my input. I sometimes think keeping our phones on and constant incoming email has become the grown up security blanket.  We like to feel important and needed.  Let’s get back to enjoying the feeling of being accomplished but not overworked.

Just say “no” to unnecessary meetings or activities.

Question whether or not a meeting is necessary for you to attend, especially if there is no agenda. Does your 10 year old really need to be on 3 different baseball teams at the same time?

Use an egg timer or other time (not your smart phone) to commit 15 mins or more to a task.

Break the habit of looking at your phone for 15 minutes or more. Build up to an hour or longer. I’m working on going back to school to finish my PhD.  I need to build up my focus to sit in a lecture for 1-2 hours.

Focusing is a skill that can be re-developed. Embrace mono-tasking for the life jacket that it is. Don’t let multitasking keep you busy but deprive you of accomplishing your dreams.

Laurinda

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I'm Laurinda and I'm a Program Manager by day, Writer by night, Engineer by trade, Speaker sometimes & Christian always. I have a passion for leadership, wine, good friends & science fiction.

2 responses to Foundations of Personal Growth: Focus

  1. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with the strategies you’ve listed here. You’re so right, mono-tasking proves to be way more effective than multi-tasking. Great post, Laurinda.

    • Thanks Cynthia! I’m struggling with focus right now. It’s a discipline that needs to take priority in the 21st century.