When I was a little boy, I discovered the power of a magnifying glass. It made things look bigger and more focused. I soon learned another power of that magnifying glass. When you focused it on a tiny spot using the sun’s rays and held it there long enough, it would burn a hole in a piece of paper.
Whether it is lightbulbs or laser beams, the only difference is focus.
Actor and martial artist Bruce Lee said, “The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.”
When you are genuinely focused on something, you process the task at hand under a proverbial magnifying glass. When you are in business or just reaching specific goals, you need to be absolutely laser focused. You must have the ability to pay attention to the things that matter and avoid distractions.
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
American management consultant and author Peter Drucker, in his book, “The Effective Executive,” outlines five habits of the mind that must be acquired to be an effective executive. Two of them apply to focus:
- Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They start out with the question, “What results are expected of me?” rather than with the work to be done, let alone with its techniques and tools.
- Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They force themselves to set priorities and stay with their priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first – and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.
Focus is the doorway to all thinking – learning, problem-solving and decision-making. Without total focus, everything suffers. You need to focus on the right things.
Start by de-cluttering your mind. A person who is everywhere is nowhere. Prioritize what is important at work and home. A clear mind is a focused mind.
Clean up your workspace and make it easy to locate what is necessary to get your job done. Get rid of clutter so you can spend more time focusing on your work. Get a good chair with back support.
Keep up with technology that can help you get your job done, but be mindful of how distracting it can become with all the pings, vibrations and other notifications of social media. Choose a specific time to handle emails. Consider putting your phone away for a designated period of time. This goes for your computer too.
Noise is also distracting. Move to a quiet area or close the door to your office space. If that is not an option, consider using noise-cancelling headphones.
Multitasking often contributes to a lack of focus, so concentrate on one task at a time, which will improve your accuracy and efficiency. Think of many things but do only one. FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful.
Regular exercise is a lifesaver for me. It clears my mind and allows me to concentrate on what is important. Taking breaks is another important part of maintaining focus.
Eat properly and get plenty of sleep so you don’t feel tired. I’ve found that keeping a schedule of going to bed and waking up at a similar time is beneficial. Your body needs good fuel and rest to work properly.
Prioritize your tasks each morning and tackle the most difficult ones early. Make a to-do list to help keep you from procrastinating. Don’t be afraid to switch things up to avoid boredom.
Actor/wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said: “Success at anything will always come down to this: focus and effort. And we control both.”
Baseball great Babe Ruth was once asked by a reporter, “How is it that you always come through in the clutch? How is it that you can come up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a key game with the score tied, with thousands of fans screaming in the stadium, with millions listening on the radio, the entire game on the line and deliver the game winning hit?”
Ruth’s answer, “I don’t know. I just keep my eye on the ball.”
In other words … focus.
Mackay’s Moral: Starve your distractions and feed your focus.