30 November 2016

Business leaders need to learn how to concentrate on what matters most

Maintaining focus can be tough when you have a lot on your plate. As a business owner, you tend to be constantly busy with a barrage of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls craving for your attention. In the middle of the clatter, knowing how much workload your mind can take and strategising your attention can increase your focus and your productivity at work.

Some people are very susceptible to distraction, and the overwhelming amount of technology makes it worse. The only way to actually get things done — effectively and soundly — is to find a way to allocate your brainjuice according to priority.

Here’s how you do it:

First things first: Start with the most demanding task

Our normal brains are wired to do mindless work first and then build up to the more challenging obligations. However, doing that can drain your dynamism and drops your level of focus. Every mental process we make exhausts the brain, so the latter part of the day is the worst time to do difficult tasks.

You can achieve better focus if you reverse the order. Check off anything that requires creativity or attention first thing in the morning, and then at the end of the day, proceed to do easier duties, like going through emails or dealing with personal meetings.

Distribute your time purposefully throughout the day

Scientifically, we can only stay truly focused for an average of six hours per week. So as you can imagine, you really need to make sure those hours are not put to waste. As a business leader, you should have a pretty good idea about what matters are most important. Think about categorising them according to importance and urgency.

Also think about what specific places or positions or food help you think more clearly. Deliberately planning for a “personal brainstorming session” can be very beneficial and could bring more organisation not only to your thoughts but also to the physical tasks at hand.

Urgency can be a trap

Just because something is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important. On the other hand, just because something is not that important doesn’t mean you won’t do it. So how do you deal with that? First of all, you need to know how to distinguish the two.

Some matters that are urgent may not require your focus, because those things can be delegated to someone. But if something is important, it requires your attention no matter what. Don’t get caught up putting out fires when you should be brainstorming on something that’s truly more worthy of your time.

Always think of the bottom line

Some leaders can become obsessed with achieving a certain goal that they tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Chasing your objectives can lead to aspiring for more goals, and sometimes those goals skew away from your personal and business “why”. If you’re going to invest a lot of time and focus on something, make sure it’s critical to achieving your ultimate goal, whether it’s short term or long term success.

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