We talk lot about managing our time, but what about our other finite and equally critical resource – our ability to focus?
Just as we can't make more time, we can't create more focus and so as with how we use our time, we have to make a conscious decision of how we're going to use this limited and vital resource. With this in mind, here are two simple steps you can take to better manage your focus and with it, how you respond to the growing distractions around you.
1. Create “distraction time” in your day to deal with attention-getters
The first thing we need to do is to recognize that distractions are all around us so we can shift from being reactive to being responsive. By this, I mean that we need to become more aware that distractions are all around us and using that awareness to help us isolate these attention-getters so that we can deal with them at a later time.
One way to put this into practice is by blocking off time in our day – what we can label as “distraction time” – where we can deal with those emails, status reports and updates, and unexpected calls for input or direction. Knowing that you now have this dedicated block of time in your day to deal with the various distractions you face in your day will make it easier for you to not simply react to them when they come.
Instead, you'll be able to triage you focus by ascertaining whether this really requires your attention at this moment or whether it can be dealt with during this “distraction time” period that's been set aside in your day.
2. Identify the link between daily distractions and your shared purpose
Now that we have a greater awareness of how to triage the various distractions around us, the next measure we need to implement is regularly remind both our employees and ourselves of what really matters – in other words, what's the goal we want to achieve through our shared efforts. This way, when those daily distractions inevitably show up in the workplace, it will be easier for you to determine whether it requires your attention by asking the following the question – if I deal with this right now, how will it help us in our efforts to move forward?
If it's merely an attention-getter that doesn't have a tangible impact on your collective efforts to push ahead in attaining your objectives, you can simply relegate it to that block of “distraction time” where you can deal with it once more pressing issues are dealt with.
In the end, we do have to recognize the fact that, more often than not, we tend to create this sense of urgency around everything we do, without actually taking the time to really evaluate whether A) it's urgent, but not necessarily important at this time and B) if dealing with it now actually helps us to move closer to achieving our goal.
By building your awareness of how you're managing your focus, of what you're paying attention to on any given day, you can ensure through your leadership that your employees are not simply being reactive to what they see going on around them, but instead operate from the perspective of keeping their focus on what will help your organization to achieve its shared purpose.