Let’s for a moment consider why focus is important for you as a leader and how much time you allocate to focused work. As a leader, you need to allow time to do what I call ‘deep work’. So what’s deep work? Deep work is when you focus on strategy. Deep work is when you need to perhaps be creative. Deep work is when you need to be using all of your senses to come up or deal with some issue that you may be facing.
To do this, you need to actually make your thinking laser sharp, or you need to be in a place where there are no distractions. Now, if you think about our world today, we are on twenty-four seven. We are attached to our devices, we are constantly getting pinged, and of course we want to respond. As research shows, every time you get a ping on your phone, it’s a shot of dopamine in our brain, so it gets us excited, which is why we start looking at our phones. Now, research also shows that when we are multitasking, switching from one thing to another, even though we may think that we do that without much down time, the research shows that it does take a little bit of time, a few seconds, for our brain to switch gears and to switch tasks.
So, it’s difficult for us to do focused work when we are distracted. What, therefore, are some of the things that you can do to increase your focus? First thing is you need to be deliberate about it, and you need to allocate times in your calendar, to do some focused work. You need to either turn off your phone or put it on silent, turn off your notifications on your computers, so that you can actually sit either using a paper and pen so you can sketch, draw, scribble ideas, or use a whiteboard, or a flip chart, but use some form of kinesthetic way of trying to get your creative juices working.
The second thing is considering what materials you’re going to use to document your thinking? As I suggested before use – paper, pen, flip chart, whatever, but use a way where you can scribble things down to generate your thinking. The third point is to actually start off with that big question. So what is that question you want to delve into so that your brain starts focusing on that.
Another way that focus can help in teams is if you have a focus on the three major objectives they are going to be working on for the next year, or the next six months, in your team meetings. Whenever you’re talking about different topics, a key question that gets asked is, is this relevant to our focus areas? I have found with clients that I’ve been working with, just by having their focus on three key topics for the next twelve months, and in all their meetings now, the question gets asked – is this related to our focus area? Is this going to help us move closer to what we are focused on? If it is, great, if it’s not, move it out, or maybe it gets discussed in a different realm.
Therefore, what’s the focus point or reflection point for you here? A couple of key questions. How do you allocate some focus time for yourself? What are the focus areas that you want your team to be thinking about? And how can you actually utilise those areas as a way of getting alignment for both yourself and your teams?