The Thing About Focus

Who is this for? Those who are worried about keeping focused on the right things versus the wrong things.

We’ve been pretty silent here at Workflowing for the past week and a bit.

Schechter and I have both been traveling, and with plenty on our plates before and after said travel, our focus has been split … somewhat. The reason I consider it “split … somewhat” is because we had an inkling this would happen. We knew that when we started develping Workflowing in public that in its early stages there would be other things we’d committed to that would keep our focus elsewhere for periods of time.

And we were okay with that. Why? Because in order to have focus, you need to accept that you will have to put things aside.

That doesn’t mean you can let things slide – especially if the expectation is that you’ll give those things some of your focus. For example, I had writing assignments that I couldn’t let slide – as outlined in a post earlier this week on Productivityist – but I prepared accordingly so that I could give those assignments the focus they deserved when I could afford to give them that focus. The result was that I delivered as promised and no one was let down in the process.

By being up front about how this site was a “work in progress” (so to speak) and then taking that one step further and broadcasting that on Twitter, we gave this site the focus it needed before we shifted focus to the other things we needed to focus on. So we didn’t really split our focus at all. We shifted it – and we did so accordingly.

This week on Mikes on Mics we talked with Julien Smith, who recently unveiled what his new company, Breather, was all about. During the discussion, we talked about “zooming in” and “zooming out”, and Julien makes a point of saying how he couldn’t focus on being a founder of a brand new venture if he was focused on being a best-selling author at the same time. Making that distinction – and that decision – is going to have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your workflow. Admitting that you can’t be everywhere all the time despite having access to everywhere most of the time is huge.

We did that over the past couple of weeks – and we’ll do that again. Maybe not in the same way, but we’ll still do it so that we can shift our focus rather than split our focus.

Did we have the tools to do this with us? You bet. Would it have been done well? No. Neither would the other things we had to do. Going forward we’ll need to figure out what happens when neither one of us can be here to man the ship because clearly it will happen. As I mentioned in an exchange over on with Kevin Rothermel, while the Internet is everywhere, our focus can’t be.

The takeaway here is that it is perfectly fine to pay attention to what needs attention rather than all that needs attention. That’s how good work becomes great work – which is the kind of work we all should be striving to do.

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  1. Ken Burke says:

    Nice, Mike. Very useful. Cleared some of the clutter for me and is already proving to be very beneficial. Thanks!

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