What should we do when there is too much to do, or even maybe not enough to do? These are the times when it is important to Focus. Instead of focusing, we sometimes find ourselves jumping from activity to activity or chore to chore and do not feel that we have accomplished anything. If you accept the premise that Focus can help us be more effective, perhaps you wonder how to Focus.
As a business and life coach, I have been helping others (and myself!) be most effective for many years, thirty years, to be exact. That amazes even me! The structure I use for this is classic goal setting, which is nothing more than setting priorities. These are time sensitive, meaning, there are time frames established for the goals. For the purpose of illustration, I am going to use an abbreviated goal-setting process for this discussion. If you and I were engaged in a one-on-one goal-setting process, it would be more involved than this, but an abbreviated process will illustrate the points I am making regarding Focus.
I am going to use three Goals Categories for this: Personal, Family, and Financial. Each of these three categories can be subdivided into sub-categories that are involved in the larger category. An illustration will make this clear.
In the Personal category, one could have the following sub-categories: Mental Health, Emotional Health, and Physical Health. In the Family category, one could have these sub-categories: Spouse, Children, and Extended Family. In the Financial category, one could have these sub-categories: Budget, Income, and Expenses.
Before beginning to set goals in each of the categories, it is helpful to do an assessment. For example, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being poor and 10 being great, determine your current Mental Health, Emotional Health, and Physical Health. This information can help us focus. If our Mental Health and Emotional Health are 9 or 10 and our Physical Health is 4, we may want to focus most on our physical health in this category. The same is true for our Family category. If our Children and Extended Family categories have healthy numbers and our Spouse category doesn’t, our Focus could best be on our Spouse. In the Financial category, if our Income and Expenses are not in line, our budget will likely be off. Focusing on increasing income and reducing expenses might be time well spent.
Regarding the “time-sensitive” part of this process, we need to establish timelines for each of our goals. They should be long-term and short-term, in that order. If we focus too much on our short-term goals and fail to connect those to our long-term goals, we will probably not reach our long-term goals. For example, if one of my long-term goals in the financial category is to increase my income by $50,000 by the end of 2023, (8 months, for the purpose of this example) then my short-term goals will need to be directed to increasing income by $6250/monthly. This is a stretch goal for most of us, but it is doable if we get another job, sell valuables, or find another outlet to increase that money consistently. This is not easy to do, but it is easier if there is a definite goal, a reasonable timeline, and activities directed to the accomplishment of the goals.
Most of us have more to get done in a day than we are able to get done. But we are most effective if we set clear goals (priorities,) with reasonable timelines. We will get something done every day. The question is, are we getting done the things that are most important to us?
When we Focus, we are most effective.