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Wishing you a focused 2010

December 26, 2009 1 comment

imageMy wish for you for the coming year is the same one I wish myself.

I wish us many focused hours, days, weeks, and months.

Why focused?

For me, at work, there is nothing that feels better than leaving the office after having a focused day or week. I enjoy having this sense of accomplishment seeing the tasks lists dwindling down or after solving a tough problem that was risking the current project schedule or customer success. The opposite, having an unfocused day, takes away so much energy thinking about what that is still left hanging.

Why now?

As soon as we login to the laptop or any other smart device we are at beginning of a constant struggle. An endless cross roads expends from that point on. Even while waiting, watching the task bar expends from left to right while the OS loads application after application to memory, already new communication channels opens up and start streaming bytes charged with high potential energy for driving your next few minutes, or hours away from the original purpose that motivated you to turn the device on in the first place. Outlook, IM, Twitter desktop client, Firefox with open Gmail, Google Wave, Facebook and WordPress tabs to name a few. There is a race for your attention and every program pushes itself in front of the other.

It is so easy to notice, and so hard to resist not to react to, the recent Facebook notification, new Google wave, email from SlideShare or YouTube channel with a bunch of links, follow the current Trending Topic, @reply or IM @friend, reply immediately to that email you were just CCed on with a question that you so know the answer to, but others can handled that as well (and maybe this is their job).

Multi-tasking, enabled by the operating system, along with social media, enabled by the digital multi-media, can create this constant notion of not being on the right thread at any time. And that’s not even includes doing your work. Sometimes participating in the real-time search race feels more like “what am I’m missing now?” instead of “what is happening right now?”. The truth is that “now” happens all the time.

We sometimes have this tendency to follow the Shortest job next scheduling algorithm at work. Although this algorithm is great at “minimizing the average amount of time each task has to wait until its execution is complete” it could also lead to tasks starvation (i.e. never getting to address it). It could also lead to developing the habit of replacing short with easy or fun.

Focused does not mean a single goal

When I say that I’m wishing all of you to have a focused year I don’t mean to focus necessarily on one goal only . It could be ideal to be laser focused on a single goal but it could almost be too ambitious of an objective or even an out of balance way of living, it could kill your health and relationships. You may choose to focus on multiple goals this year, and it is a big miss not to participate in the social media party, the key is to be focused at the current task at hand. So, when you work on that paper, problem, long email, and etc, it is OK to be fully present with your eyes, ears, mind and mouse cursor on the current thread. It is OK to tune out for a bit.

Some ideas for keeping your focus on a single task at the time

  • Go to Services in Windows and set any application’s with disruption potential “Start-up Type” option to disable.
  • Define priority policy attribute and categorize emails by it – immediate response, can wait, to do, follow-up. Keep it simple so it will not take a lot of your time implementing it. There are lots of email handling tips out there just Google “email management tips” and you’ll find a ton of info – just don’t spend too much time reading about it:)
  • Break large tasks to manageable goals – this helps with both motivation and focus.
  • Treat yourself to some social media action after the task is completed.
  • More suggestions here via Delicious

Before leaving this blog post

And before leaving, I would like to share with you this very insightful phrase that I heard somewhere and it stuck deeply in my mind:

“What you focus on expands”

Happy Holidays and have a great focused year.

Picture credit emmaphotos

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