How to Find More 'Focus'
One of the recurring themes I hear from friends and clients is that they want to be more 'focused'.
They—like me sometimes!—think that 'focus' is the key to sailing through their projects for the year, and feeling more accomplished at the end of it.
But 'focus' is a slippery target. What is it that those friends and clients are really looking for?
I was musing on this as I heard one client describing how he planned to bring more focus to his work this year.
I know when I'm focused on something, I have more energy for it, and that creates a positive cycle for me where I get more done.
I could see he believed it, but I'm not so convinced.
The Benefit of Focus
You see, there are two parts to this idea of feeling focused and getting more done...
...there's the feeling of focus—the idea that it's better to be in the flow, to feel energised, productive...
...and then there's the actual completion of things that we're working on. The 'getting things done' part regardless of how we feel.
Often, people are looking for the first believing it will deliver the second.
What if it’s not quite like that? What if the two operate completely independently? What if we've simply confused the relationship between one and the other, imagining a link when there isn't one?
The Feeling of Focus
There are times when we wake up, we feel energised, we have a great day and end up with a feeling of accomplishment. And there are days when the work feels slower; when we have to just sit down and do it. Get a cup of tea and check things off the list one by one, not necessarily feeling like we're doing much, just staying in the game one step after another.
The Completion of Stuff
And then there's the activity of completion. Of picking off small chunks, single tasks that we know will contribute to the larger whole. Writing a single paragraph, making one phone call, arranging one appointment, taking that half hour out for a walk. We can wait for the feeling of focus, or we can do it anyway, regardless of how we feel. And it's those who choose the latter path who end up getting more done.
You might feel focused, the activity you're doing might help settle the noisy voice in your head enough to allow a sensation of calm productivity to rise up, but it might not. You might end the day feeling as if you didn't get much done when actually you did.
So the feeling can be de-coupled from the result.
Here's my advice if you want to create more focus in your life and work:
Make sure that you know the difference between a feeling and an outcome.
And make sure you're focusing on the right one of those -- because one will lead to results and the other will keep you trapped in a conversation with those imaginary dragons in your head.
Which do you choose?