How to Capture and Keep Your Attention
In the healthcare industry, expectations are going up at the same time resources are not.
It’s more important that ever for you and those you lead to be able to use your valuable resource of attention.
Great news, you can actually train yourself to harness your attention and stay on task.
Here are five ways you can get focused fast so more of the right things get done.Start to finish
- Start to finish
- Count down
- Time it right
- Break it up
- Schedule it
1. Start to finish.
It’s important that you break up your tasks into chunks that you can start and finish during the course of the day.
As you work, think, “start to finish.” You’re work on that task isn’t done until that small piece is done. Have a bias towards action, and completion.
One of the biggest reasons you leave work feeling stressed and unsatisfied with your work, in spite of the fact that you’ve worked hard all day is that you didn’t finish tasks, you started them, but left a lot of loose ends. This is a recipe for stress.
- Count down. You know how easy it is to get distracted by pings and blips on your screen when you’re trying to get an important task finished.
There’s something called the Pomodoro technique where you work for 25 to 30 minutes, followed by a 5 to 10 minute break. There are several different app options for this.
Work with one or a timer you choose that shows you how much longer you’ll be spending on your task. The count down keeps you on track, and knowing that you will soon get a break.
My coaching clients have told me that many times, seeing the timer ticking away has kept them focused on the task at hand, rather than chasing the next task, that’s probably easier, and not as important.
Use Apple and looking for an app to help? Check out one called “Be Focused – Focus Timer & Goal Tracker for work.”
If you’re an android user, you may find the “Brain Focus Productivity Finder” a helpful app.
- Time it right. Timing your work matters.
In fact, when you do something is as important as what you’re doing.
Most people responding to a Gallup survey say mornings are their best time, with 10am being the sweet spot.
It’s probably not surprising to you that younger adults, the Millennials, are more likely to be in the 26% who say that after 5pm is their best time.
Great if you’re like one-third of the people I consult with who get to work remotely one or more days a week.
For everyone else, the tip is:
To the extent that you’re able, do your most challenging work when you’re at your personal best each day.
Leaders, when you’re in charge of planning meeting times for others, don’t plan any meetings before lunch, as the morning time is prime time for most people. Three o’clock is a good time for most.
- Break it up. Tonight, before you go home, plan your #1 priority for tomorrow. Now, look at what’s already on your calendar, and break up your #1 priority into do-able chunks that fit around what you’ve already got scheduled.
Let’s say that you have a meeting that ends at 9:30 tomorrow and another that starts at 11am right after that. Given how far these two meetings are apart, plan a short activity that fits between these two meetings and moves you forward on your most important task for tomorrow.
Average performers see their days in big chunks, such as before lunch and after lunch.
Highly successful people know the value of time and they make each minute count.
- Schedule it.
As you plan tomorrow, put tomorrow’s tasks on your calendar. If you and I were having lunch tomorrow, you’d have that on your calendar: Lunch with Crystal at the café, 1 to 2pm.
Your work is at least as important as lunch with me, so make sure you’re writing down on your calendar, what you’ll do, and when you’ll do it
BONUS: Research proves that if you want to give yourself a BIG boost in the likelihood that you’ll follow through on your task, also write down WHERE you’ll do the task.
What, where, when, goes on the calendar for each task. Do you already do this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Great news as you implement these tips on focus, the more you work on being focused, the better you get.
Be willing to not be great at it at first, and to keep at it, finding out what works for you and what doesn’t and adjusting it to customize your work flow to your unique situation.
Questions? I’m happy to help. Contact me: Crystal@CrystalJonas.com or call or text 719.291.0366 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation on how you or your employees can stay more focused at work.
Crystal Jonas is “The Employee Performance Optimizer,” helping leaders make the most of time, talent and energy.