5 Steps for Finding & Keeping Your Focus

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Written by Tami Moser Ph.D., DBH

I’m a professional learner and professor. After spending 15 years in the corporate world, I moved to the crazy world of Higher Education. My learning journey resulted in a Ph.D., DBH, and a MPA. My free time is spent as a coach for working professionals and academics looking to expand their careers through higher education.

July 22, 2020

Finding your focus and maintaining that focus is key to achieving the outcomes you want in life. Telling you to focus is easy for me to do, sounds easy in theory, but is difficult in reality. Life pulls us in many directions and distractions are plentiful every day. This newsletter provides steps that will increase your ability to find and keep your focus. As always, there are additional resources that you can read linked at the end of this newsletter.

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance, or energy you have. If you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.” 

– Zig Ziglar

Step 1: Design Time to Think

I don’t know about you, but I often get so busy with everything that I need to juggle, that I forget the importance of finding time to just be still and think. Thinking is important to mental health and focus. Allowing your mind freedom from dictated action creates the opportunity for growth and innovation. Warren Buffet is a perfect example of the success that can be found when the freedom to think is built into your approach to life.

How you choose to design time to think into your life is uniquely yours and should fit the life you want to lead. For some, this may mean a day set aside specifically to think and plan the rest of the week. For others, this may mean an hour set aside in a day.

Take Action: Get started by picking a set time to just think. Make sure that you set aside at least an hour (more time would be better). Let people know that you will not be answering the phone or email unless it is an emergency. You may need to define what an emergency means ?. Decide where you will go to think. The office may not be the best place. This will feel strange and might be very difficult for you to do, but taking this time is valuable. This is not a selfish action‼️ Those you love will benefit from you taking this time.

Step 2: Consider the Whole

You play multiple roles and have many relationships that are important to you. No one goal exists in a vacuum. Consider the whole of your life and the goals that you have set and start to work through how actions need to coexist as you move forward. Pursuing advanced education is challenging and time-consuming. That does not mean that you should sacrifice the important roles and relationships in your life.

To make sure that you can maintain the life you want while achieving your goals, the full picture needs to be reviewed. Not everything can be a focus every day, but your ability to find some time to focus on what is important to you is crucial to your success.

Take Action:

  • Write down what relationships are important to you.
  • Write down what roles you need to maintain while pursuing your goal.
  • Now create time in your day to focus on these areas.

Not every role or relationship needs to be addressed every day. Find what will work for you and your lifestyle. This requires that you go back to step 1.

Step 3: Make a Plan to Focus on the Vital Every Day

Our goals define what we view as vital to living the life we desire. Defining what is vital creates the impetus for change. In order to achieve our goals, the focus needs to be clear. Not on what you want to achieve in a month or a year. Although, that is part of a planning process. Keeping your focus requires that you put a plan in place to focus on what is vital. By identifying steps, each day that contribute to goals we have identified as vital the focus stays true.

The reality is that the majority of our day is not directly contributing to achieving what is vitally important. The trick is finding time to complete your daily work and get things done that are part of a normal day while also making time to focus on your larger goals and what is vital to your success and fulfillment.

Take Action:

  • Start with one of your larger goals. Make sure that you have it written down.
  • Think through the actions that need to be done every day, week, month to achieve that goal in the timeline you have set.
  • What could you do tomorrow? This starts to provide you with a method of finding an action to take every day or every other day that will keep you focused on moving toward your goal. NOTE: If you are pursuing a degree, break down your courses and the assignments into daily action.
  • Set time aside on your calendar to work on the vital. This time is sacrosanct and cannot be disturbed with other distractions. For example, when I was pursuing my Ph.D., I scheduled playtime. This was my time to do anything I wanted with no guilt. It was on my calendar every week.

Step 4: When It is Time to Focus – Do It!

One of the disadvantages of our world is that we are connected 24/7. We have technology at our fingertips and can be distracted in an instant. When you are ready to focus on taking action, you need to be all in. To keep the focus, you need the ability to concentrate on what is vital and ignore the distractions.

This can be very difficult to pull off when you have a spouse and children that expect and deserve your attention while at home. When you are at work, your boss, peers, employees, and customers expect and deserve your attention. So, how do you balance this to get things done and maintain your focus? That is going to depend on your lifestyle and circumstances.

? Take Action: Start by asking some ?s
  • Do you have a location in your home that can be shut off and be a DO NOT DISTURB zone? If so, this may be your best option.
  • Is there a conference room or other space at work that you could use outside of your normal work hours?
  • Would you find it easier to rent time at a workshare location to work without interruption?
  • Keep asking yourself questions until you discover what will work best for you. I also recommend pulling your significant other (if you have one) into the discussion. They may have a solution that you have not thought of to give you the time and space necessary to keep the focus on what is important.

Step 5: Understand What Needs to Change

Reaching your goals really means that you must change what you are doing. Keeping your focus and working through these steps means change. Change in your daily habits, change in the way your family operates, and change in your approach to daily life.

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” – Jack Dixon

Making the necessary changes in your approach and creating space for you to focus on what is important and vital to your success and happiness creates the results you want. The trick is changing and continually reviewing what is working. When something stops working or negatively impacts your ability to focus, then change.

Additional Resources:

Why Successful People Spend 10 Hours a Week Just Thinking

7 Useful Tips for Improving Your Mental Focus

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