Lord knows I have tried to focus from time to time. Whether it be following the concepts laid forth in a "how to organize your life" book (I really try to not watch email all day long); whether it be keeping track of how I spend my time during any given day (that was depressing); whether it be trying to keep a clean and clutter-free desk (I am getting better at that); or whether it be scheduling large blocks of time on my calendar to work on a specific project (it seems that people still tend to want to talk to me during those times)...all of these items can and should be done. I think I have come to the conclusion that FOCUS may not be a science at all, but an art - something that one does because of who they are and how they think rather that what they do. Let me explain...
The concept of FLOW (made popular by the research done by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) seems to me to be more of how one sees the world - the concept of doing what one loves and doing it in a manner that creates FLOW is a gift that an individual can bring about, a gift both to themselves and to the world. When I am in the state of FLOW, not only am I doing good work but those around me are more capable of doing good work. And like great art or music, so it is with FLOW- very difficult to describe but you know it when you see it. We are drawn to focused people...we like being around focused people...we like ourselves when we are focused...and at the end of a day in which we have experienced being focused, we feel as if we have accomplished a great bit. What does focus look and feel like? Here are a few thoughts:
- there is a heightened sense of awareness
- there is a sense of completion
- time seems to move at just the right pace
- distractions seem to be minimized (thought in reality they may not be)
- a sense of joy and peace surrounds you
- stuff gets done
- you are less angry at the world
- you suddenly have more time for people
- you see yourself as being able to take on any task that might come your way
- there is both an exhilaration and an exhaustion - both of which create energy
So how does one get to this place? How might one find themselves more often in a state of focus? It takes time and practice...it takes knowing about certain skills that assist toward this end....it takes using the tools that are around you to help create focus...it takes finding what you do well and using those talents in your day-to-day work...it takes surrounding yourself with competent people who agree on vision...it takes you being incredibly competent in what you do...it takes a certain amount of confidence that you can do this job - and do it well...it takes an understanding of what is really important in your role, and what can be left to be done at a later date (or by other people)...it takes understanding who you are and what strengths you bring to the table...it takes the ability to say NO to that which gets in the way of focus...it takes forgiving yourself when life throws you a curve ball...and it takes time to where being focused can move from the conscious incompetence to the unconscious competence. And that's when focus becomes an art!