staying focused

4 steps to staying focused on what’s important

Productivity isn’t something that I talk a lot about. But, the truth is that making the most of the time that we have can not only help us get more done with less stress but it can make us better leaders.

I’m not talking about tips and tricks on how to get to inbox zero (although, that’s helpful too and I *swear* someday I’m going to get there), rather I’m talking about the ability to stay focused on what’s important regardless of the myriad “urgent” things that pop up every day.

So, not just getting as much done as possible but focusing the right amount of time on the right things at the right time.

And this is where leadership comes in.

As leaders, it’s up to us to make sure that, yes, a lot of work is being accomplished but, more than that, that the work being done is focused and on point toward strategic goals.

Inspired by a system that Tony Robbins teaches, here’s the magical four step system to do just that.

Get Clear

When things are clear, action becomes automatic. What is it that you’re trying to do? What is the main goal, main purpose, most important thing? It may sound obvious, but a lot of us don’t do this.  Spending time to get clear on the absolute top priority for your team and organization is critical.

I’ve talked about it before here and here and I’ll talk about it again because – this is the key to a team that gels, is effective, productive and happy.

Schedule the Most Important Actions

Ok, this one gets a little productivity-tippish but, in order to harness all that forward momentum from getting so clear on your goals, it’s important to map out the MOST important actions in a particular time frame. Maybe it’s in a weekly meeting or a month planning session.

But, based on the clear purpose you found in step one, what are the most important actions that need to be taken. Don’t just identify them, but put a plan in place to actually take action.

Create a system for measuring your progress

Are the actions you’re taking working? If you don’t measure, how do you know? Based on your Most Important Actions and the outcomes you had hoped for, ensure there is a system in place for measuring them. Maybe it’s a weekly team check in or a calendar reminder that outlines where you’d hoped to be.

My experience in my own career and with our fantastic clients at Padraig, is this step is a derailer for many of us.  Too often we have weekly team meetings and we focus on what needs to be done, what priorities are hitting us this week, etc.  We don’t often enough follow up on what was tasked at the last meeting.  Have you cleared all the steps and tasks from last time? If not, why not, and what is the plan to achieve them this week?  Be careful this week’s less important, but more urgent tasks don’t derail you on the more important ones that are getting you to your strategic goals.

Tweak what isn’t working

Just because you make a plan to achieve a goal or outcome doesn’t mean that you’ll get it right the first time. If something isn’t working, tweak it, change it, shift it – whatever you need to do to keep iterating.

This step is where all the magic happens. It’s where you learn from your mistakes, it’s where you recommit to your goals and desired outcomes, and it’s where you inch closer to exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. It allows you to leverage the work that you’ve done instead of scraping your progress and starting over.

Coach’s Question: How would you and your team have to change if you wanted to measure “effective” rather than “productive?”  What can you do, today, to start putting the system in place?