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A Focus on Focus

Posted by on March 15th, 2013 with 0 Comments

My friend Tomo always likes to say, “We’re just like crows, easily distracted by shiny objects”.

I wish it weren’t true, but it’s tough to argue with – especially in a culture where we’re so proud of our inability to focus that we gave it a name: multi-tasking.

Never mind that multi-tasking is a myth on the order of telepathy and military intelligence – the problem has been around as long as man.

Centuries ago, Zen masters recognized the need to step back from the chaos, distraction, and disorder of our environment and our own ‘monkey-minds’, suggesting:

When walking, walk.
When eating, eat.
– Zen maxim

That’s great advice, right along with ‘Look at me when we’re talking’, or ‘Don’t listen to a football game while having sex’.

If you’re finding yourself challenged by distractions, overwhelmed by the pace of life, or unable to complete any simple task, here are some great places to start.

  • When you’re at work, just work.
    Don’t check your Facebook account.
    Don’t check to see if you favorite team made any trades today.
    Don’t call your spouse to ask, ‘What’s going on?”
  • When you’re at play, just play
    Don’t check work email.
    Don’t discuss investments.
    Don’t accept phone calls.
  • When at dinner, eat.
    Don’t think about work.
    Don’t accept phone calls
    Don’t turn off your senses – smell, listen, taste
  • When you’re on the phone, only be on the phone.
    Don’t continue typing or watching YouTube videos.
    Don’t continue driving.
    Please, please, please, don’t use your phone in the restroom!

I could continue, but you get the idea.

Relevance is the most important of the five SMART as Hell attributes – and the most overlooked.
I can say with confidence that the difference between really successful people and unsuccessful people (not necessarily measured by riches, but certainly inclusive of those folks)  is the amount of time spent on relevant tasks.

Watch people around you and you’ll see that the average person dedicates 80% of their energy to activities that are ‘distractions’ – sorting, cleaning, watching TV, gossiping, and meandering around trying to remember what they were working on.

There’s nothing wrong with these activities when they are your conscious intention; but there’s a lot wrong with them when they are a distraction from your intention – when they are irrelevant to your end goals.

So let’s get focused, because that’s SMART as Hell.

SMART as Hell Activities:

  1. Identify: How much of your work time is not spent on work?
  2. Identify: How much of your play time is not spent on play?
  3. Identify: How much of your eating time is spent focused on eating?
  4. Be Dr. Phil: Ask, “Is this working for me?”
  5. Reflect: On what changes you could make.
  6. Act: Take action and focus on one item today.

Share your questions, thoughts, and comments below.

 

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