What is focus?

“the centre of interest or activity”

Being able to “focus” at certain times is a great skill to have – is it not? We all know that focus matters.  But what does it mean when we are trying to get stuff done?  I’d say it is the ability to concentrate on the task in hand, to be able to work effectively for a period of time, to the exclusion of other distractions. 

However, many people don’t know where or when to focus. And telling people to “focus more” is about as helpful as telling them to “make better decisions.” Words you may hear frequently,  but useless in practice.  Knowing where and when to focus is therefore handy!

For example, when faced with the week ahead, taking time to decide what is important and therefore what needs the most concentrated effort or attention is half the battle.  Some of that might be time-related – a deadline for a project, or a presentation that you need to give.  Sometimes it will be the impact on the business if something is not done.  Understanding what needs to be done, and the relative priorities of those tasks is the first step.

So now we have a prioritised list of tasks to be done, and associated deadlines!  But – as everyone knows – that’s only half the story!  We need to set ourselves up to achieve those deadlines!

Time and place can make a huge difference.  It is not always possible to work on a presentation at your desk in the office if you are likely to get interrupted (and therefore lose focus).  Many people find that working from home can enable them to concentrate and complete certain tasks.  Or it might be as simple as just moving to a different location with a new outlook (I am typing this from a table overlooking a lovely garden).  I am a member at a coworking space in Glasgow for similar reasons – my time spent in the office allows me to focus in a different way.  And as I travel, I find that new locations do inspire me. Even working in a bar (where there happened to be good wifi) was productive!


Time of day can also be a huge factor.  Not everyone has a body clock that permits them to get up at 5am and be productive.  If that’s you then great – but trying to impose that on others whose circadian rhythm does not work that way is pointless.  (And by the way those people should not be made to feel they are some kind of failure for not joining the 5am club!)

5 o'clock in the morning

Learn to recognise when you are most likely to be on top of your game and be ready to tackle that type of task – not forgetting the day of the week!  Friday afternoons for most people are not the time to work on something that needs a lot of focus.  You might be different of course – that’s up to you!

So to recap:

* set out what needs to be done, and prioritise
* decide where you work at your best on any task
* consider what time of day / day of the week gives you the best chance of success.

Of course, you can do all of these, and can be sidelined by events, or even your emotions.  As an example, if a family member is ill, or needs help, then you will not be able to focus.

Let me know what you do if you need to focus on a task!

As always, if you would like to talk more then please do Get in touch.

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