I’m constantly delighted with the comments seminar attendees and coaching clients make after they start applying more focus in their daily time management choices.
Just today, David, one of my corporate executives said: “With constant focus on my highest value and giving myself one over-arching priority, sometimes daily but with bigger projects, weekly, I feel far more empowered to say ‘no’ to what are essentially distractions. Other times I request (and sometimes renegotiate) blocks of time for a task that will require more time.
“I’m also encouraging my direct reports to come with more completed work if possible, or at least to have taken their thinking as far as they can before they come asking for help. This way they’re putting some focus in themselves and not just relying on me to solve their problems.
“Your other really powerful focusing strategy that I found very helpful, Robyn, is the Daily 1-5. I was vaguely doing something like that, but now I’ve elevated it to an essential process. It really clears the mind clutter and helps me stay focused on what needs to be done. Some days I only get the top 3 items off the list but by the end of the day I still feel I’ve achieved something worthwhile – because I started with the most important tasks.”
[Read about the Daily 1-5 system at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11338935]
Here’s another slant on focus from a friend (and past client), Nigel Hanscamp, now the minister at Heathmont Uniting Church near Melbourne.
“A couple of months ago I came across ‘focus days’. I’ve started to use them as follows:
- Monday is ONLY for the Sunday service coming up, with two half hour slots for email.
- Tuesday is ONLY for a day off, and I generally put my phone in the bedside drawer for a sanity break on Tuesdays.
- The rest of the week can then unfold however it happens, but the most important things are done in those two focus days.
My friend Tom Poland also recommends focus days – this time for anyone who needs to market their business or service.
“The calendar that I ask my clients to follow is Monday, Tuesday, Marketing Day, Thursday, Friday. If we want to grow our business we want 20 percent of our work week devoted to lead generation. If you do that, you’re aligning your resource of time to the desired outcome of strong cashflow and good margins.”
I asked Tom: ‘”Are you suggesting it’s better to dedicate a full day to it, or could it be done in some chunks on other days?”
He replied: “No, a full day. Other activities have a habit of creeping. Most business owners don’t want to do marketing. But the reality is, you just have to market, otherwise your future is extraordinarily insecure.
“If you allow other tasks to fit into the marketing day, you rapidly find you have ‘creep’. You say, ‘I’ll just do some of my emails’ and before you know it, it’s midday, and then your wife or husband phones, and you’re all over the place. One whole day, nothing other than marketing.
“The second reason to allocate a whole day is about how long it takes to get into the zone. If you do short bursts of marketing interspersed with other tasks, you’re always just warming up. You must give your mind a chance to become productive, to get into a zone where all you’re doing is marketing.
“When we break the pattern of our focus, productivity drops, it takes a while to get it back up and the day is much less effective.”
How do you apply focus in your day, week, or your month?
Do you use a system or do you allow each day to just roll?
A version of this article also appears in Robyn’s regular NZ Herald Online column