No matter if we are talking personal life and productivity, professional career or success of your whole business, it all depends on focus. All meaningful things require one’s full attention.
Focus is expensive.
Attention is your cash – you pay attention to the things that you decide to buy into your life. In economics, they call it the Opportunity Cost. There is an alternative to every choice you make and that is the cost of every decision.
When you lose the focus, you start investing your efforts, attention and resources into the things that don’t bring you closer to your goals.
The problem is that we stopped noticing the things that take our focus away from the goal. Did you know that on average you are bombarded with over 5000 sales and marketing pitches every day?
Losing focus costs you even more
While staying laser-focused is difficult, having no focus will cost you much more in the long run. Trying to do everything leaves you with nothing.
In personal life, not knowing what your values and goals are results into constant attempts to please everyone or “make the most of life”. I’m sorry to say this, but eventually, that will result in lots of wasted time and scattered fruitless efforts.
Setting too many personal goals that don’t help each other will simply overwhelm and stress you. Contradicting ideas and meaningless relationships will lead to the inevitable collapse of your dreams, deep disappointment and emotional burnout.
In professional life, lacking focus makes you take up too many tasks and duties. Of course, there are always new exciting opportunities, but starting more things won’t make you accomplish more.
Without a clear focus, you won’t be able to prioritize your work. You’ll become the bottleneck of every project you get yourself involved into and that won’t really help your career advancements.
At the highest level, in business and management, a company without a strong core direction eventually fails to compete. Such an organization will be jumping between ideas, trying to hop on every trend… but ultimately misses all of them and never achieves anything extraordinary.
The real root cause
At the core of all of these issues lie just two things – the wicked combination of the fear of missing out and the abundance of options we have.
These two factors teach us to multitask, switch between tasks, browser tabs and projects. There is always something more important, more attractive, more pleasurable, cheaper, with higher ROI … and so on.
In this rush, we completely forget that multitasking is the biggest enemy of productivity.
The Big Reveal:
Limits are good for you
This sounds counterintuitive, but the big secret to real productivity are deliberate and purposeful limits. If you want to achieve more, you need to limit yourself and say no to good opportunities.
The biggest companies in the world, the corporations everyone is looking up to, actually know that too.
Just think about it, the first thing Steve Jobs did when he came back to Apple in 1997 was cut whole product lines and sharpen the focus on just a handful of products.
Tesla started from just one car that targeted a very specific audience. They didn’t try to appeal to everyone and be accessible to all. Step by step, each of these companies built on top of previous wins by paying an enormous Opportunity Cost for their radical focus.
In the end, however, both reaped an even larger benefit and thanks to such harsh limitations to reach new wider audiences and markets.
There is a reason why Kanban method is gaining a lot of popularity for the last few years. Both personal Kanban and a lesser known Portfolio Kanban, which businesses use to manage their work, are tools for work visualization. The key, however, is that visualizing your work enables you to limit the amount of it that is in progress. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out some articles about Kanban WIP (Work in Progress) limits.
Eg. of a software kanban board with work visualized on it.
In the end, no matter if you are an entrepreneur, school librarian, parent or student, you need to manage your attention as if it was money. Attention is the currency of the digital age and the wars are raging for it.
Author Bio: Dmytro Moroz is a digital marketing strategist at Kanbanize a portfolio kanban software company that helps you visualize & manage your company work. He is passionate about Agile Marketing & helps to promote Lean Management Principles.