“Focus” by Cindy Stradling

Over a decade ago I read the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and my big takeaway from reading this book was the value of focus.  In fact, Robert shared an acronym for the word focus that I continue to use today:focus

F – follow

O – one 

C – course 

U – until

S – successful

 

When I first started my business I had my hand in many different areas and projects. What I realized very quickly is that my efforts were diluted everywhere.  Once I learned Robert’s acronym I took a long hard look at my business.  After exploring the various areas I created a new plan that in my opinion, was much clearer, easier to measure and focused on a specific outcome.  As I enter into my ninth year in business I can see now this strategy worked very well for me.

 

This is not to say I don’t look at new ways of doing things or new opportunities.  I do this regularly as the market is constantly changing and we need to stay abreast of what is happening in our industry.  Where I use focus is when I am working on a project or simply doing my day to day business activities.  As an example if I am making outbound calls, my focus is strictly on doing this, not answering inbound calls or emails intermittently.  

 

I find that the results I achieve are so much higher when I take this approach and the bonus to this is that I feel very good about setting an objective and sticking to the plan to make it happen.  This doesn’t just apply to my business life it also applies in my personal life as well.  When I am with family or friends, I am with them, not texting or answering other calls.  I see people in restaurants all the time sitting across from each other on their cell phones texting.  Personally, I think people miss the human connection when they do this (this is my opinion – maybe it’s my Boomer mentality).

Prioritize and make time for the things that are important to you.

We can (and do) make time for the things that are most important to you. Often these things inspire us and we don’t see them as something you “have” to do versus what you “want” to do.  Even when this work presents us with challenges, it can also produce the highest level of satisfaction.  This is the incredible thing about doing what you were meant to do is that is often doesn’t feel like work at all.  I know for me my work provides me with a great sense of contribution and connection to people.  This makes my commitment to stay focused on my goals so much easier.

What does it really take to move from knowing what to do and actually doing it?

We all know what we need to do to be successful yet we often don’t do the very thing that will have us be successful.  What is the secret? Focus!   We can read books, attend seminars and listen to webinars to learn techniques to make improvements in our personal and professional lives.  It is not until we commit and focus on the actions we need to take that we can yield the results.  If you research anyone who has accomplished great things in their lives you will learn that at the base of everything they did was a dedicated focus in their area of interest.

We have all experienced distractions and interruptions at home and work.  Once interrupted, we have a hard time getting re-focused again. I have listed below some startling statistics and the impact of interruptions to focus:

  1. The average employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions followed by “recovery time” to get back on track. (2009, Basex)
  2. The time spent per day being interrupted and trying to refocus is 2.1 hours. (2009, Basex)
  3. Physically co-located workers spend longer chunks of time engaged in tasks for which they are not accountable. (University of California-Irvine)
  4. The average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes. (Study conducted by Priority Management)
  5. The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London suggests that your IQ falls 10 points when you’re fielding constant emails, text messages and calls.  This is the same loss you’d experience if you had missed an entire night’s sleep.  (Yoga Journal, p. 22, 12/2005).
  6. The cost of managing interruptions at work costs the US economy $588 billion per year. (2009, Basex)