Eyes on the Prize

Two Must-Dos for Maintaining Focus

Throughout the work year, we will inevitably face times where we lack focus: from seasonal changes to post-holiday blues staying on track and maintaining focus amidst everyday mayhem can be a significant challenge. Fortunately, we have a couple of pro tips that will help you to do just that. Before all those clear objectives cloud over with minor (or major) distractions, read on:

Pro tip #1: Be clear on what constitutes a priority

Sure, we all know how to prioritise. Or do we? It’s a common mistake to confuse your priorities with your to-do list. The Oxford Dictionary defines a priority as “A thing that is regarded as more important than others.” The key words here? “More important”. The professional and personal plans you’ve made for the year ahead must remain your priority. Don’t allow others’ demands to erode your good intentions. This is where the “resolute” part of your resolutions really kicks in: schedule the time to tackle your own essential tasks – and resist all attempts to renegotiate.

Pro tip #2: Apply the 80-20 rule

Also known as the more impressive-sounding “Pareto principle” [https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2016/03/07/80-20-rule/#4e6925b3814b], this rule simply states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. A Pareto approach therefore involves understanding which projects will deliver the most bang for your buck – or, rather, for your time. Which is great in theory, but what regularly happens is that people spend eighty percent of their time on work that only delivers twenty percent of the result. We’re so busy ‘being busy’ that we lose sight of what’s important. Instead, keep this principle in mind, and work to maintain the right balance.  We should spend most of our time on the work that delivers the greatest returns. Identify what really matters – and be ruthless about focusing on this first.

If these solutions sound pretty simple, that’s because they are. But these fundamentals are always the first to fall by the wayside as projects pile up and demands increase. Stay purposeful and be wary of time-wasters, whether they be people or propositions, and keep our two distraction-minimising techniques front of mind. You know what matters. Don’t be sidetracked by anything that doesn’t.