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Become More Focused: The Forgotten Superpower

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Become More Focused: The Forgotten Superpower

Ever had one of ‘those days’. You know the ones where you started off feeling like someone from a Marvel movie – with a belly full of fire, plans to be actioned and things to achieve. And by day’s end you felt like Superman does after a dose of Kryptonite- where despite good intentions you have essentially done nothing. (Well the email inbox got reduced and those photos got sorted on your hard drive…)

Getting on top of our priorities and mastering where to focus our attention and our energies eludes many of us. There is a cure.

Here is a simple 5 step method to try:

STEP 1: Pick a time frame.

A year or 3 (longer than that rarely works effectively) and write down your top 20 Goals for Business. Do the same for your non-business life. (Fewer is fine, more than this rapidly becomes unworkable.) Set the lists aside for a day or two.

STEP 2: Sort your goals.

Now look over the Business Goal list and put a line through the 5 lowest priority goals, the least meaningful goals. Then circle the top 5 goals of the remaining 15. Do this for both lists. You have created a smaller list with clearly identified focus areas.

STEP 3: Review your goals.

Now review the top 5 on both lists see if they are compatible and that achieving one will not exclude another. Adjust accordingly by removing clashes from one or the other lists.

STEP 4: You now have 4 lists.

2 for business and 2 for your non-work life. The 2 top 5 lists are ‘Focus’ List A and ‘Focus’ List B.

The two 10 item lists are ‘Not Yet’ List A and ‘Not Yet’ List B.

STEP 5: Discard the ‘Not Yet’ Goals.

Put the 2 ‘Not Yet’ lists in a place where you can find them, but out of sight. They have become the ‘important but not urgent’, and you should not pull them out again until the respective Focus list has been completed. In effect they are things you care about but which will distract you from achieving the 5 most important things you have decided need doing.

Now you do not pull out those lists again until you have completed your Focus List. You have just exercised a nearly forgotten superpower: Elimination.

But there is a dark side to be aware of – eliminating things we care about but which will effectively deliver little to no real benefit to our lives is damn hard. These things are easy to rationalise spending time, energy and effort on and they, in fact, have the potential to become the biggest roadblock in your path.

By reducing 20 priorities down to 5 you have identified the important things to achieve and reduced the others to the status of mere distractions. And so they remain until the time is right to pull out the lists and choose another 5 to work on. (The chances are that the 10 items on that list may no longer be as important once you have completed the Focus 5…)

The inability to discern the difference between the items that need focus and those that are really just distractions is why so many of us have a plethora of half started, not completed projects on the go. Like an underused muscle the power of elimination is often weak, but it becomes mighty again in only a short time if you use it…

By eliminating those things which are in fact non-essential to our lives, we make our lives easier. Our headspace becomes less compromised and our actions more focused. Our lives richer, our dreams more realised.

Eliminate with precision and ruthlessness. It pays off.

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