Nicole Fachet, vice president, Text 100

Prior proper planning prevents poor performance… at least according to my college roommate. It’s the ethos she lived by.

Many (many) years ago at Villanova University, I would watch my roommate make smart decisions about studying a week ahead of an exam; attend class regularly, take copious notes and organize them; utilize professors’ office hours and spend lots of time in the library. She managed to make the honor roll every semester, had a steady boyfriend, went to socials and had a cadre of friends.

I’m just not built that way, I thought. I’m not that organized, not that focused. Plus, how could I possibly do all that and still have time for The Price is Right, General Hospital, 90210 and happy hour?

What I didn’t realize then, that I now know for sure, is that being focused and organized are learned skills that must be nurtured and perfected over time.

For me, the hardest part of improving my focus is that I really do love distractions. As much as I want to finish writing this post and call it a day – I am desperately yearning to check my inbox for new mail. It has been at least 15 minutes since I looked – and who knows what I could be missing!

As a distraction junky, I realize I need to be more disciplined than most to stay focused. Here’s what works for me:

  • I’m a morning person. I think better, I write better and I communicate more clearly in the early hours of the day. With that, I try to do all of my writing, planning and tough client calls before noon.
  • I accomplish more when I work as part of a team. A daunting task becomes so much more achievable when I have partners to help.
  • I actively listen. To stay focused on long conference calls and in meetings, I require myself to be able to summarize key discussion points at the end of the session. I don’t always say them out loud – it’s more of a personal goal.
  • I just do it. More than half of my problem is getting something started. The longer it sits on my to do list, the harder a task it becomes in my mind. Just do it – it’s really not that hard.

While my focus has much improved since my college days, I’m still on the journey. Sadly, however, I think my taste in television may be regressing. Jersey Shore anyone?

—————

#FocusFriday is a weekly conversation helping people with productivity in the office.  Posts can be at the same time fun and serious, in the spirit of the Xerox’s Business of Your Brain app, yet always focused on what matters most, Real Business.