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The Best Strategy for Increasing Your Focus

| | Personal Leadership
The Best Strategy for Increasing Your Focus

There is nothing like a category 5 hurricane barreling towards your home to make you think about what really matters to you!  While we chose to ride out the last 5 hurricanes at home, for the first time in 14 years we decided to evacuate.  

Fortunately for my family, we prepared for the worst and had the best possible outcome.  

However, preparing for the worst required that we make fast decisions about what mattered most to us. After people and pets there was not much room for things in our car, so we had to do the best we could to protect the few things that mattered most and hope for the best when we left them behind.

I have been reminded just how much an imminent threat or crisis can help me to get super focused.  So I’ve been thinking about what I can learn from this experience that I can apply to enhance my ability to stay more focused in everyday life and work in the absence of the fear and adrenaline. And there is one thing that stands out for me as the key to focus anytime and anywhere: be crystal clear about what matters most.

When you are feeling scattered or overwhelmed in any domain of your work or life, below are 3 questions that can help you to get focused.  But before you ask them make sure you choose a specific domain.

In the domain of ________________ (e.g., my business, my finances, my relationship with my kids, my relationship with my business partner, etc.)

And then ask yourself…

  • What matters most to me, for them, for the future?  

See if you can narrow your answer down to only 1-3 things.  The key to focus is making things clear and simple.

  • What could I choose to focus on that would make the biggest difference for me, for them, for the future?

If you are in a moment of feeling overwhelmed ask this question in terms of this moment.  If you are wanting to create a plan to accomplish something ask this question in the context of your goal or the timeframe for something you are at work on.

  • Given what matters most, what can I stop doing or take off of my “to do” list?

Once I was clear I had a very limited amount of time and resources for protecting anything as the hurricane approached, that long list of things I had hoped to accomplish before we evacuated got very short.  Getting more realistic about what you can accomplish in a day vs. what you’d like to accomplish in a day can free you up to focus without the guilt of what you didn’t get done.

In this moment, these questions seem so obvious and simple.  Yet as I return to life and business as usual though, I’m sure I will need to remind myself to remain clear about what matters most in everything I do.  

I think it’s time to put a sign up in my office with the question: What matters most?

Photo Copywrite: harvepino / 123RF 

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Mike Henry Sr.   |   22 September 2017   |   Reply

Susan, great post and challenging questions. Today, I’ll be thinking about what matters most and I may try to get that sign up in my office too. I’m glad you had the best possible outcome.

Susan Mazza   |   22 September 2017   |   Reply

Thank you Mike!

Chery Gegelman   |   27 September 2017   |   Reply

Great post Susan! It is those moments that clarify priorities for sure! So glad everything went well for you!

With every hurricane I’m constantly taken back to Houston as we prepared for a category 5 several years ago. My husband and I were working at a school and were the two in management that were the closest to the campus. Many students were from out of the area, so we had agreed to be at the campus to help meet student needs the same day the hurricane was scheduled to hit land. (With several hours to spare.) When we left the campus and headed home it felt like we were in a science fiction movie. With the exception of the freeway that was jammed with cars above us, the streets on the way home were practically deserted. Wal-Mart’s normally busy parking lot was empty. The windows and doors were boarded up. And random trash was rolling through the parking lot. It was the eeriest feeling.

Susan Mazza   |   05 October 2017   |   Reply

Thank you Chery! It is very eerie indeed. Not surprised you and your husband stepped up to help!