Focus is tough. Especially when you’re in leadership or management roles and you have to largely create your own schedule. It’s very easy to spend far too much time on things that either come naturally to you, are things you enjoy more than others, or the things that come at you throughout the day (fighting fires, etc.).
In order to help me focus this year, I’ve decided to do a few things.
First, I decided to create three tenets to help guide me. This is something that I ask of all leaders that I manage. Creating three, simple tenets for their teams allows them to focus both their efforts and the efforts of their team members to make sure they are marching to the same beat.
As an example, if you are leading a product division at your company, one of your tenets might be: Always be testing. For products, getting your customers playing with your product as early as possible and taking their feedback and adjusting is critical. If you made that one of your tenets, it would be something your entire team would always be striving to do.
Although I’m not going to share my tenets, at least not at this time, it was a critical first step in trying to help me focus on the important things.
Next, I broke out my areas of responsibility of my job. It turns out I have five areas that I am responsible for. I used Mindmeister (you can sign up to try it under my affiliate link), my favorite program for doing these things. Against each area I listed the key responsibilities and then I put a percentage next to each of the five areas that I thought I should be spending on that particular initiative. I shared that with our CEO to make sure it was in alignment with his vision for my role.
For instance, I have a “Management” bucket as one of my five areas of responsibility. Against that I listed things like “meeting with my direct reports”. For the entire bucket, I put a percentage, let’s say 25%, which means that I think I should be spending 25% of my time on “Management”.
Every Monday, I start the day assessing what I am working on that week. I look at my tenets and my areas of responsibility, then I look at my calendar and to-do list. I break down the planned activities I have that week and map them against my five areas of responsibility to see the percentage of my time that is actually going toward these. So far, its been way out of whack. And its been telling for me as I tend to spend more time in a few of my buckets and less time in others, which I have to adjust.
I’d love to hear if you do something different in order to stay focused throughout the week. So far this has helped me though I’m always looking for new ways to tweak and adjust.