I want to warn you that this is not going to be your normal, run-of-the-mill time management or productivity post. Getting centered and finding focus isn’t something you’ll learn quickly. It requires more than that.
The truth is, there are countless books, training programs, articles, and blog posts written about how to find your focus, manage your time, do strategic planning, etcetera. The problem with the other sources is that they fail to emphasize the one thing that is essential to success in this area.
They fail to emphasize that change only happens from within!
Let me give you an example of how these “quick fix” solutions fail to help.
Last week I was speaking to a friend who manages a team of over 30 people in a professional services firm. She is a busy person with a great deal of responsibility. Her days consist of countless meetings, a barrage of emails, competing priorities, and metaphorical firefights. It is hard for her to focus on what matters. She feels like she can’t escape the day-to-day activities to think strategically.
When she goes home at the end of the day she wonders where her time went. She never feels finished and feels buried by her work. She is disappointed in herself, exhausted, and admittedly unfocused. She wants to do something that matters but can’t decide what that would be.
She is caught in the whirlwind.
Her struggle isn’t without hope. She knows she needs to get focused and she attempted to learn how. She read a number of books on time management, studied the Getting Things Done (GTD) system, attended Franklin Covey training, but struggled to put any of it to use. She explored the best information in the business but failed to find a solution to her problem.
The problem is that information isn’t enough.
If you want to get centered and focus on what matters you need more than information and you need to do more than change your tactics. You need to change yourself. You need to use your attention intentionally to discover what truly matters to you.
Change is an inner game. You need to stop thinking what you think and start seeing from a different perspective. This is easier said than done. Especially when you are constantly tempted to implement an off-the-shelf system to solve your problem. Techniques only get you so far.
If you want to change you need to practice new thinking and behavior habits. You need to change the way you see problems and react to situations. When that meaningless meeting request shows up in your inbox you need to hit the decline button in outlook. When that urgent firestorm shows up at your door you need to deflect it tactfully. When your employee stops bye to bitch and complain you need to tell him or her that you are busy.
The work world is filled with distractions but you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.