Focus is our ability to concentrate on something. To devote our efforts and energy to that something. In business, we tend to focus on many things. This multi-focus approach, sometimes labeled multi-tasking, usually results in a lot of things not being done well. This doesn’t mean we should only do one thing at a time. What we must do is manage our focus, ensure that what we focus on truly matters and that it adds value. We have to ensure that the goals we set are important, that they support our strategy and that what we do achieves desired results. How do we manage our focus?
There are many ways to manage our focus, but it all starts with how we set goals. Even there, we have several ways of setting goals. Most are familiar with SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and timely). Another method is OKR or Objectives and Key Results. You may not be familiar with this method. OKR is defined as:
OBJECTIVES are qualitative descriptions of what you are trying to achieve. They are designed to inspire and challenge the individual or the team to achieve them.
KEY RESULTS are the measurements that demonstrate how well you are accomplishing those objectives. This includes progress measurements. If you can’t measure it, it isn’t a key result.
There are many similarities between SMART and OKR methods of goal setting. However, they are designed to define and measure what your goals are. Managing your focus is another matter. Here are some suggestions:
Limit Your Goals
We commonly take on too many goals causing us to lose focus. Let’s are honest, a good idea that can drive your business is hard to ignore, but how relevant is that new idea. Think of it this way – when you find that your business is trying to be too much (we can do this, and that and this and that and this other thing too) your goals and ideas become unclear. You lose sight of the purpose of your business and your p[otential customers lose sight of what you do. They become as confused as you. The first step is to ensure that the goals that you set matter. Ideally, you want to limit these to 2 or 3.
Understand Why Deciding is Important
As you are presented or discover new ideas for your business, you have to decide. You can’t do everything. In short, deciding means, you sometimes have to say NO. Procrastination becomes a part of this process and not in a good way. While an opportunity procrastinated on is a lost opportunity, it also is a drain on your energy and resources. The idea has to fit well with your mission and vision – the reason you started and now operate your business. If it doesn’t, then you have to say NO. Learn to say NO and stick to it.
Be Wary of Multi-Tasking
Many pride themselves on the ability to multi-task. The problem is that the human brain doesn’t allow us to excel when we multi-task. Oh, we get things done but are they done or are they done well and have they achieved the desired result? One way to help manage multi-tasking overload is to have strong metrics for the goals you set, including progress measurement. When things start to go wrong using techniques such as 5-why’s will easily help you grasp that multi-tasking disrupts focus and disrupted focus leads to poor results.
There are many other steps to help improve your focus. You may have to be coached to employ the necessary steps to achieve a better focus, but the result will be a stronger, more valuable achievement and greater outcomes; the kind of outcomes that drive success.