The Value of Focus

Lack of Focus

As I suggested last week I want to focus on focusing this week. First let’s talk about why. There is some interesting research out there. I subscribe to Jonathan Field’s blogs  and in a recent post he talked about hyper-connectivity. I am sure some of us know what that feels like. We don’t just drive anymore; we drive and talk on the phone. We don’t just work on a project; we work on a project, look at and answer emails as well as check on our social media connections. I believe what Jonathan writes, “Hyper-connectivity gives us the perception of getting more done; it makes us feel like we’re doing more, because we’re using every free moment of every waking hour. There is often a huge chasm between being busy and being productive.”

In that same post Jonathan also refers to the Zeigarnik Effect. Essentially Zeigarnik discovered that in general, people will remember details of a task until it is completed and then dismiss the details from their mind. In addition Zeigarnik found there is an underlying psychological drive to complete the task. So, Jonathan suggests between the process of remembering what needs to be done and enduring the constant tug to bring a task to completion, every unfinished task stakes a claim to a small piece of our memory and short-term cognitive abilities. Now there is a recipe for feeling stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed.  

Real Focus

Back to focusing. I believe there is real value in allowing yourself to focus, removing that constant bombardment of new tasks that require attention. Sounds easy but where do you start. Robin Sharma  is one of my favorite authors and he offers a couple of tips that might get you started.

  1. Turn off all technology for 60 minutes a day and focus on doing your most important work
  2. Work in 90 minute cycles (tons of science is now confirming that this is the optimal work to rest ratio).
  3. Take 60 seconds to breathe deeply and focus on your progress. This will re-energize and refuel you.

How about employing a good old-fashioned ‘Cone of Silence’. Just remove the distractions. Shut the door, unplug the phone or put it on silent. Close the internet, shut off the email. If you get your email on your phone shut the phone down. If you really believe you just can’t do that – set yourself up for success and try it for just 15 minutes and see how much you can accomplish.

In closing I want to leave you with a story that illustrates what can be accomplished when you focus. I was recently involved with a group of coaches paired with a group of entrepreneurs. The goal was to come up with an actionable plan to forward their business. Most of the pairings had 60 days to get it done. One group came in late to the program and only had 10 days to do the same amount of work. Their results were equally as good as the rest of the group. When asked about their restricted time frame their answer was quite insightful. They suggested 10 days was enough time to accomplish the task because one; it had value, and two: if they had the full 60 days they would have procrastinated until there was only a few days remaining anyway. In short they just allowed themselves the time to focus on what needed to be accomplished.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at


About Janet, doing it better.

I grew up and still reside in Northern Alberta. While I have numerous interests I am passionate about the Peace River region, its innovation, its people, and the creative spirit that envelopes us all.

Posted on September 7, 2011, in Business Productivity, focus, interruptions, multitasking, productivity, productivity tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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