By John Kelly, executive vice president, Major Account Development, ACS, A Xerox Company

 

How often have you said to yourself, “Where did the last year go?” Or “How is the summer already over?” A year ago if you asked me what would be stealing my focus over the next 12 months – I would have said balancing a busy job with the unpredictable schedules of my six kids. I likely would not have said writing a book on documents in the 21st century. Nevertheless, I added writer to executive vice president and dad, for what seemed to be a third full time job over the last year.

It’s this unlikely distinction that’s given me new perspective on focus –a throw back to elementary school or junior high when we first learned about writing. The same questions and processes we were taught to begin our personal writing process can actually be applied to help reign in the craziness of our daily lives. Ones that I remember are:

  • Start with an outline: Take five minutes the night before or first thing in the morning to plan and prioritize the day ahead – if you visualize the way you want things to go you are more likely to easily adapt when things don’t go as planned.
  • Ask yourself what matters to me: Because things hardly ever do go as planned, focus on the three to five most important things you want to accomplish – personal and professional – and make sure you do them regardless of the distractions that crop up.
  • Use examples: In writing (and in sales) this means bringing the words to life, in daily life it’s aspirational – who do you want to be like, what path do you want to follow? Model a person, an approach, a philosophy, something that helps you stay focused on the big picture.
  • Be flexible: Red-lines, constructive criticism, thoughtful feedback – even the most experienced writer can get bogged down when change is required. But if your end goal is clear, you can adapt to accommodate the changes and you’ll come out better on the other side.

It’s cliché, but writing a book is a journey. It’s a complex, personal process – not unlike the daily quest we embark on each day to get, and stay focused. I hope you enjoy the book.