Focus–One Thing at a Time

How many times do you ask someone, “What are you up to these days?” and they reply, “Oh, just staying busy.” When you inquire further as to what they are doing, you typically get a response like, “Trying to get our company’s budget finalized, finish the specs for our new product line, trying to hire a product manager, etc, etc, etc.” Often you can detect in their response that they are under considerable stress, feeling pressured by time constraints and a sense that they lack control of their situation.

Everyone Wants to Feel in Control

Okay, feeling in control is not the same thing as wanting to be in charge. In fact, it may be as simple as wanting to know when something will happen. Anyone who is married has experienced the frustrations of not knowing when their spouse will do something they promised. They same thing happens at work. A co-worker promises a report and you wonder if you will ever see it. While we can do some things to help remedy these frustrations, this is not the loss of control I’m concerned about here.

I Have So Much to Do

In the first paragraph I mentioned the busyness everyone seems to allude to that keeps them hopping at all hours of the day. The stress and pressure they are feeling can come from several areas. One obvious one is others’ expectations and demands. However, another prime one is self generated by not making the decision to focus on one thing at a time.

We constantly hear about people who supposedly multi-task, as if they were some sort of computer. However, computers often accomplish this multi-tasking in what is really an illusion. They do one thing for a moment and then do another thing. The switching back and forth happens so fast that we don’t notice. As a result, it looks as if they are working on more than one thing at a time. However, computers are machines and that offers a particular advantage. Every time they move to a new task they are not required to refresh their memory on just where they were. Unfortunately, people are not like that. When we move back and forth between tasks, we have to spend some time remembering just where we were when we stopped before. We lose focus and control.

People Cannot Really Mult-Task

Think about it. Can you really focus or perform two or more things at once? Can you even drink a cup of coffee while you read a report without losing some of your reading efficiency and focus? The same is true of trying to create a budget for your department at the same time you are working on a product design. You cannot do both at the same time.

Focus On One Thing at a Time

In order to accomplish everything you need to, you must be willing to be totally dedicated to one thing at a time. So, in the case about, perhaps you work on the department budget in the morning from 8 till 12. Then, after lunch you work on the product design. The point is, unless you are fully engaged in one task, you will be highly inefficient, lack focus, be more prone to errors, have a feeling of not being in control, and likely increase your chances of burnout.

How do you manage your day? Do you focus on one thing at a time?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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