Lessons Learnt 4: Focus

Multi-tasking is the worst positive lie out there

So, let’s clear up one thing here first and foremost – stop the gender stereotyping! Because either way multi-tasking can be a dangerous hobby.

This is coming from someone who prided themselves on being able to be on the phone, cooking dinner, listening to an audio business book and typing an email.

It’s very nice to do. Doing makes us feel like progress is being made. Doing means we are busy and can tell everyone how busy we are. Busy means we are not focussing on the right thing and working efficiently.

When you are singularly focussed on a task we are giving it 100% of our attention. But it is not being task focussed – because you then rush through it. Proper attention is about preparing what you are going to do on this one job, giving yourself a structure (time, set up etc.) in which to do it and be prepared to do research. This may mean you need to learn a new software skill to put together a presentation properly, it may mean going and researching a product or theory that you are writing about to truly understand. But most importantly spending the time to think – put your feet up on a desk and muse, go for a walk – get prepared.

Stop producing stuff and start thinking and producing something new, something transformational.

The mere act of focussing forces you to prioritise. We all love a list. There are hundreds of list apps out there – but, for the sanity and betterment of my readers, I must tell you – if misused they are dangerous!

Lists have a role to play as part of the full picture, but used incorrectly can drive you into a task focussed machine – churning mediocrity to give the false impression of productivity. Stop it – surely relaxing with a book, going for a coffee or taking a walk is what you’d rather be doing so make it happen.

I use Trello as my list tool. I’ve set it up to have different days of the weeks, ideas and long-term actions. I move my list around daily according to what I really need to do, often what the week’s activities look like are completely different by day 2 or 3. This is good, this means constant re-evaluation and prioritisation. Not completing/doing a task on a particular day is not a failure – prioritisation means you are focussing on what the most important things are.

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