I’ve got a guest post for you this week from Cat Rose of Cat Rose design 🙂
It feels like ever since Gary Keller unleashed his book The ONE Thing on decision making and setting our focus to that ONE thing; we’ve all gone crazy trying to follow his advice.
Most of us are fully aware that we don’t get our best work done when we’re multitasking: we get distracted by the vibrations of our phone, the pings from social media, the 47 tabs in the browser…
It can feel pretty overwhelming to say the least!
However, just being aware of the ‘evils of multitasking’ doesn’t make it any easier to actually find our one thing to focus on – and then stick with it.
If the first step to focussing on one thing is actually deciding on what that one thing is – we’ve already got a problem on our hands.
How many of us can honestly feel assured that we’ve picked the one thing that’s right for us?
The story that hit home for me was the one about the donkey.
If you aren’t familiar with our donkey friend, the tale of ‘Buridan’s ass’ goes something like this:
A donkey (or ass) is standing halfway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Unable to decide which to choose, the ass keels over and dies of hunger and thirst – and, indecision.
Fortunately, we’re smarter than this donkey!
We can decide on one thing by simply using psychology to overcome our ‘focus FOMO’: our fear that deciding one one thing will mean missing out on all other options we want to have.
To do this, we should approach our decision making in a scientific way. Time to get the labcoats on…
So we start with our hypothesis. That means we decide that picking X will give us the desired result.
Next we set ourselves some boundaries.
Our boundary could be time (for example, when picking a workout routine, we might assign 6 weeks to trial it and commit to it), or money (for example, running an advertising campaign until a set budget is used up).
Whatever you choose: the idea is to measure the results at the end of the experiment.
After that period of committing fully, you can feel free to turn around and either stick with your one thing – or jump ship and try something else.
The point is not to get so attached to the thing you pick and to chill out! Know that there is always the option to try something else if it’s not working out.
If only our donkey friend picked either hay or water – he could always have come back for the other later!
5 Simple Steps to Focusing:
1) Start with your desired outcome.
By thinking about your end goal, you have something to measure success and progress by. Write this down! It really helps me to physically write it down – I seem to process the goal and remember it better than if I type it.
Then make sure to keep it visible – a post-it on the fridge, a big scribble on a chalkboard. I like to take a picture of my note and set it as my homescreen background on my phone. Not pretty but it gets the job done!
It’s also worth keeping in mind how realistic you think your goal is in that time. The classic ‘SMART’ goal acronym is my favourite way to remember this.
You want your goal to be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relavent
T = Time-bound
2) Pick your (first) focus
If there are various ways of reaching your end-goal, it can be easy to get distracted and overwhelmed all over again. For example, if your end goal was ‘lose 5 pounds’ then there are multiple things you could do to get there. It’s worth making a big old mind map to get everything out on paper. This is the one thing you’re going to be focussing on each day – so give it some thought! Remember, after the experiment is over, you can always try out your second choice.
3) Set a boundary
As I mentioned, having a boundary will help you know when or if to quit. So it could be a time deadline, a budget – something that gives you a hard date to pause your experiment, and measure your results.
4) Buckle down!
You’ve got your goal, you’ve got your focus for each day, now you have to follow through until you hit your boundary.
5) Review your progress
Once you reach your boundary, take a look back at your desired outcome. Did you nail it? Did you achieve partial results? Was your hypothesis correct? Evaluate and decide whether or not you want to continue or whether you want to try another route. Trial and error at it’s finest!
I’d love to know what you’re choosing to focus on right now. Send me a tweet @catrosedesign!
This guest post was penned by Cat Rose, author and business consultant at Cat Rose Design. Cat helps people reach their goals through step-by-step guides and productivity tips. To receive your free module on how to save time on social media, simply add your email here.