An important skill to hone for yourself and your team is effectively using your time and attention. Your team is always watching how you perform your job functions and reach your goals. So, to get your team on board with this enhanced level of attention and focus, you’ll need to start modeling those skills from the top. Here are some tips to improve your focus and attention.
1. Time Blocking
A great concept to help with creating more focus is to block-out your time for specific activities. This means logging out of your email when you are working on a project. You can set specific times of the day for checking and returning email so it doesn’t create continual interruptions throughout the day. You could also create a time during the day or week where you don’t allow yourself to be interrupted by anything (phone calls, emails, visitors) barring a full-on emergency.
Once you put some of these practices to work, you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be. And instead of always being busy, you’ll have certain times where you are super-focused and productive, and other times to be truly relaxed and “off.”
2. Practice Being Fully Present
At first it may be difficult to focus, because quite frankly we have made ourselves so interruptible. Even high-level executives seem to have a full case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) during their work days, and often are habitually checking-in with their smartphones and news feeds. What habit do you need to break in order to be more fully present in your professional interactions?
As an example, if you are in a meeting with someone on the team, be in that meeting. Put your desk phone on “DND,” silence your cell phone, turn off your monitor if it may be a distraction, and position your body to fully face the other individual. Give your full, undivided attention. Watch how they respond over time, and realize the impact that being fully present can have on those with whom you work.
An added benefit? This actually trains your brain to be more effective. When working on administrative work, it is easier for you to be fully focused in that work because your brain is slowly reprogramming itself away from the compulsive need to respond to over-stimulation, dings, clicks, and alerts coming from all directions.
3. Saying “No”
Does it seem impossible to get it all done in a day? It is. You can no longer fit everything in, no matter how effectively you allocate your attention. The moment you embrace that truth, you instantly reduce your stress and feelings of inadequacy. Learn to say no; perhaps this is no longer volunteering for certain committees, contracting a virtual assistant, or delegating certain tasks. Create boundaries on how and where you allocate your attention and you’ll be amazed at how much lighter you’ll feel.
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