My story today is pretty simple. Lately, I have been feeling wilted and stymied in my efforts to grow my business and to accomplish some life goals. Ever have that feeling?
What do successful people do?
Since it felt like a “management” issue, I turned to books and articles about entrepreneurship. I was looking for tips on how to more effectively manage my business and my productivity. I also read stories about what made successful people successful. A theme appeared. Successful and productive people were extremely talented at setting priorities, focusing their attention and preventing distractions. The solutions seemed mundane. Until, that is, I considered the fact that successful people turned these mundane productivity tips into an art form.
Setting priorities takes courage!
I learned setting priorities wasn’t about creating a list of all of the important things you want to accomplish. Setting priorities is about having the courage to pick one, no more than three, things to work on and then throw the rest away – literally put the rest of the list in the trash or hit delete.
It was this “throwing away” that really caught my attention.
It was a scary thought. What would happen if I didn’t remember what was on my list. Don’t I need all those ideas I generated? How could I part with them? How could only focusing on three things bring success?
The point is – if you have a long list of “priorities,” they simply aren’t priorities. All you have is a long list of things you think you need to get done. When you step up and declare what is truly important, your energy and the energy around you rallies to be successful on those priorities.
Truth be told. You create mental gridlock when you have a long list of “priorities.” You dilute your results and are likely heading towards exhaustion or burnout. Cull the list, and feel your energy soar!
By truly prioritizing, you create space to accomplish those things that are useful, purposeful, and give you a sense of accomplishment!
Focus, focus, and then focus some more!
Focusing is a skill. It is about training your attention and action to go where you want them to go. My research taught me that whether you focus or not, it is up to you.
Here’s an experiment for you. Take some time throughout the day to observe where your focus goes. It will wear you out. I know I was exhausted after I watched how often I shifted my attention and what I was addressing during the day. No wonder my brain was exhausted. I saw that I let myself be that little silver ball in the pinball machine. Bouncing and ricocheting all over the place!
To help me practice focusing, I have created a preset list of daily activities and priorities. I plan my week once and try very hard not to add any additional items until the next round of planning. It’s my reminder of what I am to be focusing upon. This list is posted right where I can see it. I make it a habit to scan the list at regular intervals throughout the day. If I am off target, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and direct my attention back to the activity related to my priorities.
It takes practice, but over time it becomes second nature to sense when you are off target and immediately return your attention to your priorities. It is actually becoming a fun game!
By training my attention and my actions to focus on my priorities, I am also experiencing a higher level of satisfaction at the end of the day. It is a great feeling knowing that you have advanced your work and your life in a way that is most meaningful to you!
Keeping distractions at bay is essential!
I listened to a number of podcasts by Daren Hardy (a coach for uber productive and successful people). I absolutely loved his tip for managing distractions. He encourages you to create an “Active Distraction Defense System” that prevents distractions from entering your realm. Once a distraction enters your orbit, you and your energy have to tend to it.
Go about creating systems and structures to prevent distractions getting to you in the first place. Find your sources of distractions and then set up a system to defend yourself from them.
Your distraction defense system may have you no longer answering phone calls and let them go to voicemail. Maybe you automatically delete emails that don’t relate to your priorities. Have an important project to complete, put a “come back later” sign on your cubicle or office door. Catch yourself snacking on unwanted pastries in the coffee shop as you work remotely, remove yourself from that setting – go to the library instead.
Also give some thought to preventing mental distractions. Eating healthy food, taking regular mental breaks, meditating, exercising, and stretching are great ways to “defend” the mind from mental distractions.
With regular practice, you can become expert at setting priorities, focusing your attention, and preventing distractions.
If you would like to develop these skills to accomplish your fitness goals, consider hiring Strand Fitness. Our personal trainers are experts at helping you set priorities, stay focused on your most important fitness goals, and prevent distractions from derailing your efforts.
Please contact me (630-653-8152; firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule your complimentary fitness consultation.
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Strand Fitness is a personal training studio in Downtown Wheaton, serving Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Winfield, & Chicago Western Suburbs. To learn more about how Strand Fitness can help you reach your fitness goals, contact Pam (630-653-8152) and schedule your free fitness consultation.