Focus!

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 01/18/2012

image via commons.wikimedia.org

Are you feeling frazzled?  Stressed out?  Overwhelmed?  You’re probably trying to do too much.

If you want to do more, do less.

It doesn’t matter how massive or complicated your creative project is.  At a given instant, you can only focus on one aspect of it.

It doesn’t matter how many projects, activities and ideas you are juggling.  At a given instant, you can only do one thing.

“Oh no, not me,” you may insist.  “I’m a multi-tasker.  Right now, while I’m reading this, I’m also composing a song, thinking about a terrific new product line and texting my mom.”

No, you’re not. You may be toggling among those different activities every second…but at a given instant you are doing only one of them.  And by toggling so quickly among them, you’re not doing any of them particularly well.

Frankly, you’re being unnecessarily hard on yourself. It’s much easier to focus on one thing at a time.  And here’s the good news:  when you stop trying to do everything at the same instant — when you focus on just one activity at a time, you will get more done, more easily, with less stress.

Let me repeat that — on the off chance you’re, say, Skyping a client, weaving a tapestry and watching a DVD while you’re reading this.

Benefits of Focusing on One Thing at a Time

1.  It’s easy.

2.  You’ll get more done.

3.  You’ll get things done more easily.

4.  You’ll reduce stress.

5.  You’ll feel better.

6.  You’ll be more pleasant to be around.

How to Focus

1.  Identify and remove distractions

What interrupts your focus?  Be candid. Is it email?  The phone? Internet surfing?  The piles of half done projects piled around you?  Your ‘to do’ list(s)?  TwitterFacebook? Flipboard or Zite or Angry Birds or any of the other 10,000 apps on your iPad?  Other people?

Take a moment to write down what tends to interfere with you sticking to one thing at time.  Now, brainstorm ways to remove or reduce those temptations. Schedule time at the end of your workday to do those things that need to be done (e.g. check your email, return phone calls, etc.)

2.  Pick something to do. 

What’s your top priority right now?

3.  Set a timer for 50 minutes.

Devote the next 50 minutes to doing only your top priority.  If something else comes us — let’s say you get a great idea, make note of it quickly, then get right back to the task at hand.

4.  Give yourself a break.

Take five or ten minutes to do whatever you need to do — rest, eat, jump up and down, stretch, feed your pet, stuff a load of laundry in the washer, read, listen to a great song — whatever.

5.  Reset your timer.

Focus on your top priority for another fifty minutes.  This might be the same task you were working on in the previous focus session — or it might be a new priority.  You choose what makes sense for you do work on for this next fifty minutes.

6.  Take a break.

7.  Repeat. 

Try this “Focus” approach this week and see how it works for you.

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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/ .

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