This week I've been feeling a bit out of sorts with a loss of focus.
I love rhythms and routine, and when those things are interrupted I feel out of focus. On Monday, we moved our offices at work and that threw me off in terms of preparing for the week at work. At home, I've been waking up later than usual and haven't had my time in the morning to focus and get going. This happens every now and again and it used to take me days to get focus back. I've learned some things that have helped me get my focus back in minutes rather than days. It's a three step “Process for Focus.” I hope it helps you like it helps me:
1. DO A BRAIN DUMP.
I learned this from David Allen's book Getting Things Done. And this was actually revolutionary. A brain dump is...a list! When I lose focus it's because I have a million things in my head racing. When I stop and write down the things racing in my brain it helps because they are out of my head and have been captured on paper. Sometimes this can be a few items, other times it can be pages! As soon as I feel done, I can actually start doing the next step, which is prioritizing the list!
2. PRIORITIZE THE LIST.
When the stuff is out of my head and on paper, I can start to focus on the priorities. I ask myself questions like: What is the most urgent? What can get done in two minutes? What can I get done today that will get the biggest impact?
Then I'll go through the list and write down numbers. As a rule, if something will take two minutes or less, I'll just do it. But once the list is prioritized then, according to Nike: Just Do It!
3. DO THE NEXT ACTIONS.
Once I've got focus on my priorities I'll start tackling the first priority. Sometimes the priority has more pieces (like getting my taxes done). If something is going to take more time then I have I'll do one of two things.
1. Schedule it on the calendar. If it doesn't get scheduled it doesn't get done. If there is a project at home or work that needs multiple steps and processes, then I'll schedule it on my calendar. Then I've set aside time to accomplish those tasks. Otherwise, I'll forget to do them.
2. DO IT NOW! If I have a project like “work on blog,” there are several sub tasks on that list. For instance: Write post. Edit post. Put in links. Schedule posting on social media. Send post to email list. Some of the tasks I've done so much that I don't need to write them down. I have started writing more things down to document the process and see how it can be improved. But once I have the sub-list done, I start knocking out my list.
How do you get back your focus? What works for you? I'm always trying to improve and get better. Any suggestions?
Nithin Thompson is the Teaching Pastor at Liquid Church which is located in Morristown, NJ. Nithin is a graduate of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary. When he's not pastoring you can find him hanging out with his wife Jackie and trying to catch Pokemon with his daughter Selah and son Wesley. He blogs on SojournIntoExile.com.