It’s hard to make progress on big goals if you can’t focus.
The trouble is that it’s never been harder to focus. The average CEO gets less than a half hour of uninterrupted time each day (source).
If you find it hard to focus, don’t despair. Definitely don’t beat yourself up. You’ll find inspiration and advice in this podcast interview with journalist and best-selling author Johann Hari: Why We Can’t Pay Attention Anymore
Hari offers a handful of solid strategies to increase attention (the second half of the podcast interview). A few that stood out to me:
#1: Invest in a kSafe. Setting your phone aside for some amount of time each day helps to stop switching tasks so much.
#2. Sleep and diet aren’t luxuries. With moderate sleep deprivation, the average person focuses as well as if they were legally intoxicated.
#3. Find your flow. If you’ve ever experienced a flow state, you know what it is, but it’s a bit difficult to put into words. Imagine an artist engrossed in the act of creation or a rock climber scaling a new mountain. As Hari describes it:
“This is when you are so absorbed in what you are doing that you lose all sense of yourself, and time seems to fall away, and you are flowing into the experience itself. It is the deepest form of focus and attention that we know of.”
It’s easiest to find a flow state if put three conditions in place: First, focus on a single goal. Second, make it a goal that’s personally meaningful to you. Third, work at the edge of your potential – not too easy and not too hard.
I have no doubt that you’ll make more progress towards your biggest goals if you support focused attention both for yourself and your team.
Beyond business, I see a huge amount of value in finding flow. It’s been said that your life is the accumulation of where you put your attention. If your attention feels scattered, then your life feels scattered.