Do you want to develop a strength that will put you far ahead of the game? The ability to focus on what’s important is undoubtedly the most important core competency you can develop. It’s a game changer.
From a GTD perspective, one of the things I struggled with for a while was the time between doing a full weekly review (typically in the middle of the week) – when your system gets absolutely blown up because of all the inputs coming at you. Believe me, it’s still a challenge. That being said, there’s a quick and easy way to get you back on your game.
Let’s face it, our psyche becomes filled with all the inputs that come at us, really 24/7 these days. It’s hard to track anything. It’s hard to focus on anything for more than 10 minutes at a time, if that. Emails, IM’s, Phone Calls, Web surfing, people, meetings…the list goes on and on.
The key to focusing on what’s most important at a certain point in time is the mindsweep…it’s simple, get out a piece of paper or something (blackberry, iphone) to capture your thoughts. All you need is a couple of minutes. Just write or type…don’t think too hard. Everything that has your attention will show up. Don’t organize or evaluate yet, just get everything out of your head. It may be one thing, it may be 10, it may be 50.
This will allow you to re-evaluate what you’re doing now and what you need to be doing. That call you just got from your biggest customer that is saying they’re thinking about canceling their service – yeah, that may be the one thing you need to focus on now. That novel you’ve been itching to read but feel guilty because of all the other things on your plate. Maybe that’s the best use of your time right now. The mindsweep allows you to make a confident decision.
I personally like the feeling of pen and paper when doing this. There’s a certain freedom to writing and emptying my head. If there’s anything you’ve decided to not work on right now (there always will be), then make sure you throw it in your inbox for processing later on.
You will be amazed at the stress you can wash away by doing this simple exercise.
You want to get a better night’s rest. Do this right before you go to bed. Literally keep a notebook on your nightstand and write down what has your attention. I guarantee you will feel more relaxed and will be ready to tackle your day when you wake up. Don’t settle for anything less than razor-like focus on the task at hand.
You think Michael Phelps was thinking of anything else but winning that particular race at the Olympics two years ago? Can anyone say eight gold medals? You think Usain Bolt is focused when he’s running the 100 meters? Picture those guys the next time you dive into your next task.
If you’ve received some inspiration from this post, I’d be delighted if you passed this on to at least one person that could benefit from it. You can email this from the “share” link below. Don’t forget to sign up to receive emails when I post (about once a week) or RSS. You can connect with me on Twitter and Facebook as well.