Do you sometimes have that feeling that your life is running you instead of you running your life? Do you feel so bogged down with meetings and distractions at work that you feel like you’re unable to get anything accomplished? Are you feeling like you don’t have the discipline to accomplish your goals?
The answer to all of these questions involves focus. I firmly believe that I need to have a plan for achieving my goals and getting things done so that I can be in control of the situation rather than have the situation control me.
Focus at work
Most of feel (or have felt) that we have too many meetings and distractions. I’ve certainly felt that way a lot in the past. I’d like to tell you to just start skipping meetings, and while that might be a good idea in some cases, most of the time you can’t do that. What you can do is prioritize meetings and distractions so that you have time for the most important things.
If I’m working on a project, people expect me to get things done. So if all of my time is consumed by other things like meetings, production monitoring, asking questions, etc., then I’m not sticking to my promises. I started blocking off work time on my calendar. Actually our whole team blocked off 3 hours in the afternoon for “work time”, and if my day got to be half full with meetings, then I would just block off the rest. I decided that I needed at least half a day of time to get things done because that was important. I wasn’t dismissing everyone else, I was just making a conscious effort to decide what was most important.
I’ve also been getting better at saying no. Even if I’m not feeling swamped by deadlines and meetings, I still have a primary task that I’m focusing on. In order to maintain that focus, this means that I’ve started saying no to other people who need things done if I’m not the person who should be responsible for doing the work. I generally like to help people, so it’s been hard to do this. I’ve even started doing it with relatively easy tasks. Sure, I could spend 20 minutes and get that thing done for someone, but then they will keep coming back. This sounds somewhat selfish, but I’m making a conscious effort to focus on my task at hand.
Focus in life
There have been times when I have felt like my life was running me and that I was just treading water and trying to keep up. No one likes feeling like this.
I realize that I’m only somewhat in control of my life. I could get cancer tomorrow, or get hit by drunk driver. Thankfully those haven’t happened to me so far, so I want to proactive and intentional whenever I can.
The first thing to do is decide what you want your life to look like and then come up with a plan for success. Then you need to arrange your life and activities around those priorities. Time is a scarce resource for all of us, which means that at some point we have to think about what’s filling our day and eliminate things that aren’t important. With all of our electronic devices, it’s so easy to spend more and more time surfing the internet, reading blog posts, playing online games, and so on. Not that those are bad, but I’ve found that I need to cut some of those out so that I have more time to do the more important things I need to do.