The demand for a focused mind, the demands on our focus, have rarely ever ben greater than in this period of chaos, change, upheaval and opportunity. To see the opportunity in all this chaos, change and upheaval demands a focused mind.
Towards that end, here's my 8 tips for better focus. I hope they help.
Work where it matters.
Work where you matter. Work where work, the work, matters for you. Work where it matters you are there. Work where your passion and strengths are celebrated. Work where you make a difference. Work where that difference matters to others. Work where their difference matters to you.
This is the most important tip. The other 7 tips are subordinate to fulfilling this tip. The remaining 7 tips are useful only in serving this tip.
Use them to fulfill this tip. Use them to find this reality for yourself and others.
Go to bed early
Early is relative. It depends on you. But go to bed early enough to wake up without an alarm and still time to be at work on time.
Prepare your to-do list
Prepare it the night before or before you leave your office the day before. This step always kept me focused in spite of the many interruptions during the day, productive when my energy lagged and attention wandered, and I started producing results as soon as I walked in the office.
Keep the list short
Strategy is as much what you choose NOT to do. So is a focused mind. Keep your list focused on the most important, most productive, to-do’s.
I found listing more than 5 makes the list meaningless. And its impact useless.
Jim Collins described his don’t-do list as important as his to-do list. (TIME: How great companies fail.) For every item he puts on his to-do list, he takes one off and puts it on his don’t do list. That’s a good exercise to do regularly. But daily?
Work in blocks of time
I’m more productive, remain more flexible, when I set time limits for tasks and to-do’s. Sure, there are deadlines to be met. We honor them as we honor our commitments. On the other hand, moving from through the day, on a set schedule, from project to project, task to task, keeps me clear and creative, generates more results in less time, avoids the unproductive periods and frustration from a mind tired from pursuing the same task using the same areas of my brain for long periods of time.
Exercise regularly is relative. For some that means walking to work or skipping the cab. For others, it’s training for a marathon. Regardless, exercise regularly. There’s extensive research and anecdotes that document the power of exercise in generating creative solutions from a wholly engaged mind and body. Increased heart rate leads to increased blood flow to the brain. The relaxation of work-related areas of the brain allows for other areas to participate in the conversation.
And regular exercise keeps us healthy. It’s hard to be focused on work, if you’re distracted by declining health, your own declining health from years of neglect.
That's the fuel to run your daily marathon called...work. Enough fuel and you can run your daily marathon.
Eat breakfast. Eat a big breakfast. Eat a big healthy breakfast. Proteins and carbs. My favorite is either a big protein shake with fruit, made with organic 2% or, brace yourself, 4 egg whites and toast w/ a dash of jam and ghee. Yes. Caffeine.
Eat healthy here, too. Protein, carbs, fruit, nuts (brain food), even water. Fatigue, mental or physical, can arise from dehydration. Caffeine will only keep you up later that night.
Family and home are where meaning is found. You share that meaning at work.
That's right. Go home. Leave work at work. Rest your working mind. Re-create solutions, better solutions, at rest while you're at home. Renew love and passion at home. Find meaning at home.
Work is important. But it is only part of your life. Your family is the other part, the more important part. Family and home are where meanings are found.
Those meanings you share at work. To help others.
What are yours?
These are tips I’ve found bring focus and focused results for me. They may change over time. They may not.
If this list hasn't provided the necessary focus, if you need more tips to focus, then TPE, Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, offers 63 ways to stay very focused.