“A center of activity, attraction, or attention; a point of concentration.” Webster’s thoughts on the word: “focus.”
Few of us escape the occasional scatter-brained day. When it becomes a way of life, something must be done. There was one day, in particular, that made me do some hard thinking about time-management. That day brought the realization that I was getting out of control. I don’t remember all the details or the exact sequence, but it went something like this.
I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Upon opening the drawer where the toothpaste was kept, I realized I needed to put toothpaste on the grocery list. As I exited the bathroom and headed to the kitchen by way of the master suite, I remembered I needed to wash the linen. I stopped and stripped the bed. After all, the laundry room is near the kitchen so wouldn’t that make sense to take it in one trip? On the way to the laundry room, I noticed the carpet – not too good, so I went to the closet and got out the vacuum. Well, that reminded me that I had a gift that needed to be wrapped – the wrapping paper was in the same closet. I pulled out the wrapping paper container and proceeded back to the bedroom to get the gift from the closet off the master bedroom. Upon entering the closet, it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken the dry cleaning. I picked up the basket, keys, purse, etc. and headed out the door to the drycleaners. On the way home, I figured I might as well go to the bank and get some gas while I was out. My cell phone rang and well… I detoured to a friend’s house for a few hours. As time ticked on, I got hungry and remembered I hadn’t prepared anything for dinner. Hmmmm??? I’ll just pick something up. Rolling into the driveway, it dawned on me that the next day was trash day, so I went in and reminded my son about getting the can out front. I went back to the bathroom to wash my hands before setting out the food. While washing my hands, I eyeballed the toothpaste that was still on the counter. I picked it up and then laid it down, headed back to the kitchen to put it on the shopping list. While in the kitchen…
That was my day until I went to bed. Focused on nothing and distracted by everything! I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth that morning – it wasn’t done until bedtime. The toothpaste didn’t get on the list until the next day. As for everything else I had started – not much was finished.
I have a natural tendency to go round and round doing nothing in particular. Yes, I could have done this type of aimless behavior for hours. I was masterful at wasting time. Hence, I had to come up with a plan to keep myself in check. I hope the following points will help someone else as they have helped me to focus and move forward in my personal life and my ministry.
Focus on exactly what you are supposed to be doing.
Zero in like a laser beam. On that day, the objective was to brush my teeth. That was the only thing I was supposed to be doing at that moment in time. I know this sounds insane but on occasion, I have written the objective on a piece of paper and put it right in front of me. Finish the blog, write the article, update the website, fold the laundry, whatever it is.
Are your actions (or alliances) helping or hindering?
Will the next thing I do move me closer or further away from my objective? If I’m in the bathroom to brush my teeth, it is not time to go to the closet and select an outfit. It is not time to straighten up the shoes in the closet. It is not time to sort laundry, have my son empty the trash, or rearrange a cabinet. It is certainly not the time leave the bathroom and go to the kitchen to put an item on the grocery list. There is nothing wrong with doing these things. At some point in time, they will all need doing, but right now, it’s time to brush my teeth. Unless selecting an outfit is going to aid me in brushing my teeth, it will have to wait until I finish.
We all have things that we do repeatedly that work against us. Prepare for those moments. I know that as soon as I get started with my daily grooming, something is going to occur to me that will place my attention elsewhere. Now, I keep sticky notes and a pen in the bathroom. Anything that comes up that needs tending is jotted on the sticky note and put on the mirror, and then I can continue with whatever the objective is.
I had to make two rules for myself. 1. I can’t leave the room until I have completed the task. 2. If the action is not necessary for me to achieve the goal, then I have to write it down and continue with the objective. Upon completion, I collect my notes and complete those tasks using the same principles.
I know some of you are thinking there must be something seriously wrong with Dell. Nope, there isn’t. Granted, my wiring might be a bit different from some. The issue is about making productive choices. I’m choosing to make smarter choices. If that means I have to do (seemingly) silly things to achieve it, then so be it.
These few strategies will work with any goal, whether a business goal or personal issue.
1. Focus on exactly what you are supposed to be doing.
2. Make sure your actions are helping you and not hindering you.
3. Be pro-active.
I hope this helps.