Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Have Lost My Attention Span - How to Gain Focus

Years of business and focus on productivity - trying to get more done in less time has caused me to lose my attention span.  Technology has been a huge contributor.  Emails, cell phones, social media all contribute to "short" interactions and many of them.

This is not all good.  Much of the greatest value I can deliver comes from doing high focus activities.  Writing a thoughtful marketing plan.  Working out detailed terms sheets for a supplier.  Working on bigger plans.

I recognize this problem so like all challenges, I devise plans to solve it.  Some of my solutions:

1 - Time Blocking.  I set aside a set period of time - usually just 25-30 minutes.  I ignore my email and phone.  I close my door.  No one will be offended if I get back to them in 30 minutes.  This is the basis of the Pomodoro System I have blogged about in the past.

2 - I declutter the space I am working in.  At Danby, I have a desk in my office (and a stand up desk but that is another topic) and a conference table.  The conference table usually has nothing on it.  By moving to that table and only having the one big thing in front of me, it helps with focus.

3 - I (sometimes) work when no one else or few people are around.  For example, today is Saturday and no one but me is in the office (the outlet store is open and I stopped by to say hi but it is in a different section of the building so they do not interrupt me).

4 - I am goal oriented.  I write out my goals.  When I do this and prioritize I not only realize what is truly important but what I need to do.  The act of clarifying my goals helps me to focus.

5 - I allow myself to focus.  Yes - this is allowing.  I tend to feel guilt if I am not available 7/24.  By allowing my phone to go to voicemail or my emails to get answered slower without guilt, I am "allowing" myself.

6 - Review what is accomplished.  This is a bit like goal setting.  Reviewing what I have accomplished reinforces this habit of high focus times.  After all, high focus times tend to be the times I "accomplish" things.  This would be a good time for celebration - something I am not particularly good at.  I know I should celebrate more (more guilt coming through?)

I plan to focus more and know this will lead to more accomplishment.



At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

You are great. You keep on writing your blog for so many years. I knew this when I was in Nederland, Actually I learn a lot from you. Thank you. Just let you know I also start my blog. It is Chinese one. I like to know how do you keep on writing ?

At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this common amongst CEO's? My CEO has the attention span of a fish, remember Dory from Nemo? Thats my CEO. Imagine how it is like working for someone like that when they are the one passing judgement on your work and are the ones building trust in the organization. To sum it up, having a CEO with short attention span is not fair to anyone. CEO's asking pressing questions which most of the time has complicated answers. When you write out that thoughtful email to answer it, or when you explain in a meeting, they either DON'T read it, or they cut you off, and then, what comes next? Passing judgement. Then the CEO turns around and ask their favorite person and they repeat word for word what you said, and yea THAT person they will listen to.

I'm on the verge of starting my own company, I can feel it, and I promise I will never be that person!

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Jim. Helpful post. I just finished reading "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. I know you love a good book---and this one is right in line with your post.

Pat R.


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