focus

Disappearing Weeks

We've all had weeks that went by in a flash, where you sit down at the end of the week and say "what just happened?" and feel like achieved little, if anything, of value - it's like the entire week just disappeared. A recent article by 99%, a think tank inspired by Thomas Edison's quote that "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration", included a statement that really resonated with me -- "Whole weeks can flash by in a blur of relatively meaningless emails, meetings, and admin tasks while the 'big stuff' goes untended." This statement describes my life lately; while we have a great development team at Creatuity, we have yet to find a solid, reliable person to manage our customer service processes and we have only just begun to think about hiring someone to manage our sales processes - this leaves me as our point person for all customer service, sales, billing and a number of other tasks...meaning I spend what feels like 99% of my time on emails, meetings and admin tasks and only a very, very small portion working on development and other more creative, interesting or overall 'big picture' tasks. So, this article was very interesting to me - they list 6 questions you should ask yourself every day to help you spend more time on these big picture items. The 6 questions are:

  1. What are you doing in this moment?
  2. Are you scheduling time daily to focus without interruption?
  3. What's the ONE BIG THING you want to accomplish today?
  4. Why do you do this every single day?
  5. Is what I'm about to do (or say) moving the ball forward?
  6. What is your training regime for increasing your ability to focus hard on something without distraction?

A few of these are questions I've been asking myself every day, but two of them are questions I want to incorporate into my daily processes. These two that I'm going to be working on, and documenting my progress on here, are scheduling time daily to focus without interruption and a training regime for increasing my ability to focus hard. Focus is one of the areas I struggle with the most, so I hope by asking myself these questions I'll be able to improve my ability to focus on the truly important work instead of being overwhelmed with minor tasks and distractions and losing weeks of time. If you've overcome this or improved your ability to focus, how did you do it?

Two of the questions that I've been asking myself for some time now are "Why do you do this every single day" and "is what I'm about to do or say moving the ball forward". For the first one, "why do you do this every single day", I've focused on tasks I do every day and either found a way to automate them or outsource them - oDesk is an amazing place where you can find and hire people from all over the world to help with almost any type of task; routine data entry (such as updating a CRM) and other tasks I found myself doing every day that I couldn't automate are all now done by contractors I've found and hired via oDesk.

On moving the ball forward, I recently read a book that encourages you to just constantly seek to move the ball forward - whatever plan, big idea or dream you have, just find some way, no matter how small, to move the ball forward, to make some progress towards that goal. So now, I'm always asking myself what I can do to move the ball forward and move myself closer to achieving what I want to achieve. As a great side-effect, I now find myself asking this very question - "is what I'm doing moving the ball forward?" when I find myself spending too much time on a task. If it's not moving the ball forward, it's not where you need to be spending your time.

Do you feel like you have weeks disappearing from your life? What have you done to fight it and focus your time on things that truly matter?