“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” – Mark Twain
Focus. Something that escapes most of us.
For entrepreneurs trying to start a business online, grow your social presence, or build a platform, it can be your downfall. By nature, you are a beast with a wandering mind and unbridled passion for exploration and discovery. You want to throw down all the grand ideas you have and share with everyone, in every possible way. At the same time you are in a race of attrition battling your contemporaries with weapons of creativity and uniqueness.
For busy parents trying to balance a bustling family life with demanding corporate responsibilities, focus can seem unattainable. Your mind teeters between nurturing and caring for your children while at the same time trying to deliver above and beyond your daily career responsibilities.
For those of us trying to do both, welcome to the fifth dimension of hell on a platter. You work tirelessly to lead your family, deliver beyond your responsibilities at work, and try to squeeze minutes to harness your creative juices bubbling below the surface.
Do you find yourself scatter-brained throughout the day? Do you look back at night and realize you’ve really done nothing? Don’t worry, we all feel that way. The key is to be ok with that as you chart a course toward a more focused life.
How can you sharpen your focus and attain more?
1. Process One at a Time
It’s important that you position your focus singularly. You can’t possibly do one thing well if you are doing everything in your mind. Be in the moment and take care of what is directly in front of you. With that said, today’s world still demands you multi-task and handle various things concurrently. You won’t be able to blindly work on just one thing. The key is to prioritize and maximize your focus (Tweet That!) on that single task while also balancing the remaining queue.
2. Capture Everything
There’s no doubt moments of clarity will hit you when you are least ready. When this happens, it’s imperative that you document them for processing later. Our thoughts and creativity often hit us in disjointed bursts. Capture your bits of brilliance now so you can construct something amazing later. (Tweet That!)
3. Use a Tool
Tools make completion possible. How would we get a nail into a board with out the hammer? How would we lift something 10x our body weight without the pulley? In order to support the growth of your focus, use a tool to capture your thoughts. I use a tool called Evernote to capture anything that sneaks up on me from the side. One of the best features of the tool is the ability to access it from any device, any time, from anywhere. As parent entrepreneurs, we especially need something to wrangle our thoughts and set them in place for future processing.
4. Organize or Die
At some point randomness needs to fall into order. (Tweet That!) If you can organize as you capture, you are already ahead of the game. When using Evernote I try to capture my thoughts in the appropriate place. I create various notebooks dedicated for particular topics then open that notebook when documenting my thought. I also take advantage of my phone’s speech to text feature to easily capture what I’m thinking while on the move. Even if your initial thoughts are spread out you can still re-visit them later to organize. Being organized will increase your efficiency and effectiveness.
5. Live in the near term
Focus on the immediate while maintaining vision and awareness of what’s next. (Tweet That!) This means handling tasks and responsibilities that are due today, tomorrow, or this week. Don’t obsess with next week, next month or next year. As long as you have high level knowledge of what’s over the hill, you’ll be able to sharpen your focus and accomplish what’s immediately ahead of you.
6. Maintain Order and Discipline
I’m amazed when I see people with inboxes containing 1,300 unread emails. How can you focus in an environment of clutter and confusion? Process those emails as soon as you can. If they are junk, treat them as such. If they pertain to a topic that doesn’t fit the near term, move it to a position for appropriate processing later. It’s crucial to maintain the organization you’ve worked so hard to establish. You must maintain diligence in your approach if you are to succeed in increasing your focus and ultimately producing quality.
What should you do next?
1. Download Evernote – to your laptop and smart phone
2. Do a brain dump to establish your baseline – all the tasks, to-dos, and brilliant ideas you have
3. Create notebooks based on your baseline dump
4. Move items to the appropriate place
5. Mentally ready yourself for the journey ahead. This means remembering to use the tool going forward and to shift your mindset to one of organization, clarity, and focus.
6. Do big things!