Over a few weeks, I worked with a family on a downsizing project. It made me reflect on the importance of focus. In this situation, four siblings cleared out the family home their parents lived in for 50 years. Recently, one parent passed away, and the other can no longer live alone. The family home will be listed for sale in the next few months, hence the need to clear it out.
It is quite fascinating to have four clients instead of one or two. The saying goes, “many hands make light work,” but more people on the job seem to cause more confusion. After the first day, the siblings told me how helpful it was to have me there to keep them focused. Naturally, I was interested in how we become focused and maintain our focus.
Focus Building Tips
Have a Plan: As always, a step-by-step plan is essential. Including estimated timelines and deadlines can keep you on track.
Avoid Distractions: When clearing a household of family possessions, it is very easy for items to trigger a memory and distract you. Try to stick to the task in front of you and don’t look around at all the other things you could be doing. I like to start on one side of the room and work around the room section by section. Or you could start at the front and move to the back. If the room is full, then go around the sides and work toward the middle.
Take Breaks: Taking breaks is a key to productivity no matter what you’re working on. Eat regularly and stay hydrated. A word of advice – be sure to return to where you left off. Whatever you do, don’t start something new after a break.
Review and Reset: After each work session, take a step back and review your progress. Even if it’s only a small step forward, celebrating your progress will help you keep going. If a task took longer than expected, revise your timeline. Plan what you will tackle next time and update your time estimates.
Be Realistic: I see many people with a dozen balls in the air at once. At the end of the day, they could not complete any of their work. Please be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. It’s better to do one or two jobs to completion and then move on to new projects.
The Importance of Focus
Lack of focus can be detrimental on all fronts, both work and personal. And staying focused is becoming more and more difficult with the myriad of distractions from technology. However, developing a skill takes practice, so increase your focus “muscles” by using them. Start on small tasks and build up to larger projects.
What is your experience? Were you able to focus on a challenging project? How did you do it, and what would you do differently next time?