It’s 3:00 in the afternoon. You’re standing in the middle of your office. Hands on your hips, you deliberate about what to do now. Do you sit down and sling out a rash of emails? Do you return a few phone calls? Or do you close your door and somehow try to concentrate on the big project you really need to work on? Frozen, you are immobilized by the possibilities. You drift off for a minute, staring off into space. Then you catch yourself and snap back into action.
The rest of the day you spend busily working. You pull out a project, then the phone rings and sets you off in another direction. You keep on top of your emails and other people’s requests as best you can in an attempt to keep the deluge at bay. Head down, you fly through tasks and manage the crises, barely looking up to notice the time until finally, the day comes to an end.
Driving home, you’re spent. The day has been intense and full; you take satisfaction in enumerating all you’ve done. Then you realize even though you’ve been busy all day, you haven’t really done anything. You’ve been so buried, you’ve lost sight of your grander vision. You find yourself being haunted by vague, unanswerable questions. Could I be doing better than this? Is this what I wanted for my life? Am I making any difference? Somehow answering these questions never gets to the top of the list. Why is that? Your mind drifts off, hypnotized by the traffic and whirring about what you need to do tomorrow.
Have you ever had this experience? Ironically, even though you may be working all day, you never feel like you get anything done. You’re busy but not necessarily productive. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you wonder if you’re doing the right things. Not that you have a choice; you’re too swamped with what you have to do today to dwell for long on what you want to do or ought to do to be more effective. Still. You know there’s something wrong with this picture.
And you’re right. There is. What’s wrong is that when you bounce along from task to task, you’re not choosing where to put your attention. You’re living by chance and not by choice. You may be ignoring the most valuable parts of your life – the parts that are going to help you achieve your vision, possibly in the long term and definitely for today. Or, you may be doing many of the right things, but you’re not really sure. You haven’t stopped moving long enough to check. Plus, there are so many priorities, you find it hard to keep them all straight, much less stay on top of them all at once.
In order to get what you want, in order to be who you want to be, in order to live the kind of life you want to live and lead the way you want to lead, you need to be more strategic than that. You need to find focus.
Finding Focus is one of the ideas I share with leaders in the book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership. To learn more, go to www.TheInnerEdge.com. You’ll find an overview of the book, endorsements by such thought leaders as Marshall Goldsmith and Stephen Covey, and more.
By finding focus, you’re going to pull your thoughts out of the crowded rabble of your mind and give them the attention they deserve. Get ready to move from chaos to control.