Forget Resolutions – Seven Tips on How to Focus for Success

| Published by Mark Akerley under Newsletters |

It’s that time of year again when many people are encouraged by the start of a new year. A new beginning feels good and we’re quite willing to make new commitments and New Year’s resolutions. However, you and I both know that many, perhaps most, of these resolutions just don’t get completed. Other things, more important things, seem to get in the way. We’ve all been there. So my advice to you, particularly business leaders, is to forget New Year’s resolutions. Instead, simply decide to increase your focus this year in everything you do, resolutions or not. Here are seven tips to help you do so:

1. Discriminate – your time that is. Be very selective of how and where you spend your time. You only have so much of it, so don’t let people take it from you. When people are asking you for your time be sure to do a quick triage before engaging and don’t be afraid to say no. When you do engage in the priorities of others, as leaders sometimes must do, make sure they understand the value of your time.

2. Plan. Don’t get involved or participate in anything if it doesn’t have a plan – a written one. Even an impromptu meeting should have an agenda. So don’t go to a meeting without one. Large projects and initiatives should all have at least a rough but clear purpose, objective, time and action plan. Review it, decide where you can add value and move on if you can’t.

3. Outsource Time Drainers. Are you routinely doing things that someone else can do? Don’t kid yourself. We all get pulled into the routine sometime. Keep a log occasionally of everything you do for a week. Review it and then decide to outsource those routine things that someone else can do. It may cost you a few dollars, but how much is your time worth? How many more important things could you complete if you didn’t have to do the routine?

4. Facts. Keep your decision-making fact based. Accept reality for what it is and don’t spend time wishing it were something else or complaining about the way it is or how it happened. Rather, call out the subjective when you see it, advising folks to move on – and adopt a practice to keep your individual discussions and group meetings fact based and reality focused.

5. Respond versus React. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although this is a law of physics we all too often see the parallel in business. However, it doesn’t have to be so. For example, when presented with a difficult situation, particularly one involving feelings (see above) or people, hold off your immediate reaction. Give yourself time to assess the situation as best you can, ask a few questions, and formulate more than one alternative. This will generate a much more useful and objective response rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

6. One Thing. You’ve heard this so many times before but work on one issue or project at a time. As a business leader you have multiple priorities, but you really won’t get the best possible result unless you give all your attention and brainpower solely to the issue at hand. To do so, simply make a list of those important issues you must address today, begin working on the first and don’t move to the second until you have completed the first. Reject the phone calls, emails and interruptions, close your door, work at another location, and hide if you have to. Just do it.

7. Take the best and leave the rest. While you may find a couple of these focus tips useful, perhaps a couple won’t work for you. If so, don’t debate them. Just use the ones that work for you, discard the rest and move on. Similarly, when managing your business and you find yourself struggling with a set of less than perfect alternatives, select the best workable one, put your energy and resources behind it and execute. You’ll be happy with the progress you make – and even happier to move on.


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