Recently, I heard the story of a person who was given a task to complete. Rather than even start the task the person found a host of other activities that required immediate attention. Of course, none of these activities actually demanded prompt action. After all, these activities had not been attended to in quite some time, but they could serve as a ready-made excuse for avoiding completing the necessary task.
This is a story of lack of focus. It is a story that I have heard time and time again. I guess this means that it is not a particularly unique occurrence. Actually, I know that this happens more often than we would like to admit.
Every goal has a systematic process that has steps to achieving it. However, there are distractions, unexpected events, and emotions that can derail the process.
The antidote to derailment is- gaining focus
There are just a few questions that remain.
How do you gain focus?
How do you be productive in the face of challenges?
How do you create momentum?
How do you avoid distractions?
When you look at moments that have an effect on reaching your amazing goals, there are three periods of time that you have to be aware of in order to be productive. If you know how to manage and deal with the three periods of time, then you are more likely to achieve amazing success. They are:
One of the ways that you can increase productivity is to plan the steps it takes to achieve your goals. You can plan out everything from a short meeting to your whole day to your entire week to your complete month your total year. Just remember the better the plan, the better the chance that you will succeed.
Also, it is imperative to create mental models. In the book, Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg talks about creating mental models which are basically visualization techniques. These techniques put you in the future. You can visualize anything. For example, a presentation, a tough conversation with a coworker or your boss, or just imagining amazing success. These models put us in the situation itself. This prepares us for amazing success. It also prepares us for potential issues. The greatest sports teams prepare for the unexpected. They have plays in their playbooks for all kinds of unexpected plays. Football teams practice onside kicks, jumping on the ball when somebody fumbles, what happens on third and nine, etc. You can imagine your day, year, or conversation. You can have contingency plans when the unexpected happens good or bad.
In the future, create concrete plans that you can follow. Nobody builds a house without blueprints. No professional sports team does not have a game plan without contingencies. Every successful business has a marketing plan. A plan makes most of the decisions before they need to be made.
The present moment is very powerful, and if you don’t know how to look at the present then you won’t be as productive. You have to deal with emotions and reactions. If you don’t know how to manage your emotions then the moment will get the best of you. Moments make up days, days make up years, and years can lead to an amazing life or not.
Our attention is always tested in the moment. Our attention can be tested by almost anything. Alerts on your phone. Texts. Falling down the YouTube rabbit hole. Television. In the moment, you need to react to something. Either you can react to your whims, desires, or you can react on being productive.
One of the ways that you can focus on being productive is making decisions before the moment. For example, if you decide that you want to eat healthy then it is better that you decide to order salad before you get to the restaurant. When you get there, you are more likely to not get derailed because when you get there you see the plates of French fries, chocolate cake, or your friend asks you if you want to split a high calorie appetizer. The overall idea is to have a plan so that in the moment you will make a better decision.
If you decide what you are going to accomplish and how you are going to spend your time beforehand you are less likely to get caught in the moment and make the less productive choice. This does not mean that you can never go have fun or you can not enjoy yourself. On the contrary, if you schedule and make it becomes more meaningful, then you are more likely to have more fun. If you crave adventure and spontaneity say to your buddy we are going to hang out Friday and see where the night takes us. Remember, amazing people are very deliberate with their time and focus.
There will be activities that you just don’t like to do, frustrate you, scare you, aggravate you, and if you don’t put them on the calendar and decide to tackle them then you are going to procrastinate. These are probably the parts of the process that are necessary, not fun, but need to be produced. It might be, having a tough conversation with a team member, doing the mundane, such as filling out a form, etc. Sometimes even the most exciting of tasks don’t always excite us. I love to write. However, there are times when I’m not motivated to write. If I don’t push myself to write, then it’s easy to lose momentum and my rhythm. And, trust me, I do not want to lose either my momentum or my rhythm. This could cause me to go off course and delay reaching my goals.
Amazing success involves challenging choices, disagreements with others, fear, and a host of other emotions. Some of these emotions are easy to push of into the future by not performing the activities that are uncomfortable or having uncomfortable conversations. By not confronting these emotions or producing the actions, you are limiting your potential to reach amazing success. Decide that you are going to tackle these tasks beforehand, take your medicine and produce the results in the moment.
Every sports team watches game tape. When they watch game tape they can assess what went right, what went wrong, and what they can do better. Just like you should visualize before the moment, you should reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and what you can do better. The moments are really emotional. You have stimuli, emotions, distractions that get in the way of objectivity. However, before and after the moment, you have time to be more objective. Ask yourself, “Am I proud of the moment or did I screw up?” Reflect on your day, week, or year. If you screwed up, acknowledge that. If you did a good job, be proud of that and create momentum in the future. More importantly, start creating mental models, to-do lists, and a schedule for the future.
When you look at your goals and your habits, break down the moment into the future, then produce results in the moment, then reflect. This will allow you to be more productive, avoid distractions, and produce the results that you want.
Throughout your journey to be amazing, there will be challenges, distractions, roadblocks, and it’s easy to develop any excuse not to be the best that you can be. Focus and discipline are major factors to productivity. One powerful addition to your arsenal of success is a strong sense of why. If you procrastinate ask yourself, “if I get this done why is this so important?” How is your action no matter how small going to lead to your success? Why is it important for me to have a tough conversation now rather than later?
Another important factor of is this methodology requires a lot of down time. It requires time to think, time to react, time to plan, and time to reflect. Many people equate being productive with being busy, but busy is not necessarily productive. In an interview with Your Business on MSNBC, Tania Yuki talks about one of her suggestions is to schedule in buffer time, which is basically time to react and time to plan.
Okay, let’s face it. Being productive is tough. Maintaining focus is tough. However, if we want to see our amazing goals become our amazing reality, then we must be mindful of the three time periods of before, during, or after.