KEEPING THE FOCUS
How to Get Things Done in an Increasingly Complicated World
Goals matter and the best way to achieve them is with consistency and commitment. It’s all about keeping a daily focus on the things that really matter. For example, you might have set a personal goal to spend more time with your family and less time in the office. If that’s the goal, we might achieve it by leaving the office by no later than 5 PM, “unplugging” when we arrive home, and dedicating more of your time on weekends and holidays to family activities. The bottom line—we are most effective at achieving our goals when we can focus on each of the tasks and actions that will help us get there. Again, it’s a daily focus.
So how do we keep focused when so much distraction comes at us every day? How do we filter through the noise and get the things done that really matter? Below are some tools that I use in both my professional and personal life to effectively achieve my goals:
Task List. I strongly believe that to be an effective leader, you need to have a consistent, reliable system through which you can manage your tasks. I used to use the task list included with Microsoft Outlook. The problem with using Outlook is that my task list quickly became unmanageable. That’s when I first began researching best practices for staying organized and ultimately switched to an app called ToodleDo. Instead of simply managing a running list of tasks, ToodleDo lets me prioritize and manage my task list in a way that makes me far more effective. To learn more about ToodleDo, click here.
Goal Charts. I am a huge fan of large dry erase boards—the bigger the better—because they help me to visually plan my projects and to keep a clear focus on them throughout the day. I write everything from project task lists, timelines, and project goals on my board. It helps to have the information right there in black-and-white and at-a-glance whenever I need it.
Mind Mapping. A couple of years ago, a brilliant friend of mine introduced me to Mindmup (not a typo, that’s really how it’s spelled)—a free plug-in app that works in the Google Chrome browser and helps me to brainstorm on a project and then to categorize and organize my thoughts into more meaningful clusters and lists. Click here for more information on Mindmup and how it works.
Digital Calendar. Most leaders use a modern, digital calendar that is synchronized between their desktop and their mobile device. I use my calendar for more than simply logging appointments. I use it for time management. I block out periods of time throughout my day for different types of work I will be doing. For example, I blocked out two hours this morning to finish writing this blog. For more about effective time management techniques, check out David Allen’s book Getting Things Done by clicking here.
Video Conferencing. Depending on your role, meeting software can also play an important part in reaching your goals. I use video conferencing software, Skype for Business (formerly LYNC) To schedule conference calls, present visuals, and to simply have a face-to-face conversation. While Skype for business is included with my office 365 subscription, I pay an extra four dollars a month for a dedicated dial-in number. Skype for Business is a great example of how we can use technology to bridge distance and get things done.
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up."
--A. A. Milne