I already had this post written when my friend, Don “the Idea Guy” Snyder, asked me a question on Periscope tonight. His question was, “What’s your best advice on focus?”
Is what you are doing worth the time you are spending on it now?
- Is this something that is aligned with my purpose? Is spending your time on this task something that provides meaning in your life? To be a functioning human being, you have to do a lot of things that don’t provide meaning. If you don’t focus on this area, your life can quickly zip past you without you investing enough of yourself in your purpose.
- Does this move me closer to my goals? You have goals – things you want to accomplish. The time you spend working on your goals is what moves you closer to them. The time you spend on everything else pushes your goals further away.
- Do I enjoy this work? I used to think that you couldn’t enjoy all the work that you have to do, but I am more and more convinced that anything you do with a sense of mindfulness can be enjoyable. That said, you should do the work that you enjoy when you can, even if it isn’t your job. (Your work and your job may be different.)
- Am I the primary value creator? There is some work that only you can do. This is the work to which you bring some special value. No one can do this work quite like you. When there is no one else who can create the same value you can, it’s your work.
- Is this work going to make a contribution? There is some work that impacts others. Doing this work may help you, it might benefit your company, but it also benefits others. It is good work when many people benefit from what you are doing, especially when it helps those who need some help.
- Can I give myself over to this work? You will never do your best work, the work you are really capable of, unless you give yourself over to that work. You have to pour yourself into it. You have to sweat over it, and you may have to bleed over it. This is the work you will be proud of later.
There is power in routine maintenance. It can be tremendously beneficial to do the tasks that give you clean edges, the things that must be done for you to function well. But it is the work that fits into all the above categories that needs your time, your attention, your energy, and your focus.
- How much time did you spend on this work today?
- How much time did you spend on the tasks that meet the above criteria?
- How much time did you spend elsewhere that would have been better spent here?