Focus is vital for any business leader who wants to be productive and keep their business running smoothly. It can be really beneficial to keep an updated list of tips you’ve come across to stay focused and look back at it every once in a while, especially when you’re feeling like you’re struggling with focus. Every time I come across my list and re-read it, it always gives me a little boost of focus to get more done.
Take a look at the focus tips for business leaders below. Hopefully, they’ll be a good start to your own list and help you and your team stay focused.
Sounds simple enough. During a talk by the great speaker Victoria Labalme, she quoted the famous mime Marcel Marceaus, under whom she had studied. Marcel used to say, “breath, breath.”
Even the words of a mime can benefit a business leader. It’s amazing how slowing down to breathe as they do in yoga really helps the brain to calm down and find focus once again.
Fast Company talks about one of the most popular ways to breathe more deeply to improve focus. It’s an approach developed by Dr. Andrew Weil called the 4-7-8 method. It helps to calm the mind and relax the muscles, certainly something any business leader needs once in a while with such a busy job. Here’s how it works:
- Breath in through your nose for four counts and focus on your belly expanding as you do. Make sure your shoulders aren’t going up. You need to breathe in low and deeply.
- Hold that breath for a count of seven,
- Finally, blow out through your mouth for a slow, steady count of eight. If possible, put your tongue behind your bottom teeth so that it makes a slight whooshing sound as you exhale.
- Do this two times a day religiously.
“Weil says the method works because it allows the lungs to become fully charged with air, allowing more oxygen into the body and leading to a state of mental and physical calm” – Fast Company
Pretend you only have two hours a day to work. What three to five things would you do during those two hours a day? Once you know what those are, delegate, or stop doing everything else that you currently do and start doing only those three to five things all day, every day.
Compressing time is how business leaders stay focused, not just on their own work, but in how they make sure everyone else’s time is treated as valuable by keeping the focus in things such as meetings.
“When you are booking a meeting you should try to ‘compress time’ where you can. Take whatever time you immediately think you’ll need for a meeting and cut that number in half for the booking period. So, instead of a one-hour meeting, book it for thirty minutes.” – Cameron Herold
Meetings take the time that you give them. The more time is given to them, the more room there is to lose focus and go off-topic. By compressing time, there isn’t room to stray from the tasks at hand. The same goes for your own work time. If you don’t give yourself enough time to do anything beyond your most important tasks then it’s much harder for your focus to stray from them.
Get Off Your Email
Email has got to be one of the worst time-wasters ever, especially for business leaders that tend to get a ton of them. Instead, start your day by working on one of your top tasks of the day, as mentioned before. Don’t even think about checking your email until 4 pm and no earlier. No matter what you tell yourself, it really can wait. As soon as you start checking email the temptation will be to get sucked into it, drawing your focus away from doing anything actually productive.
Years ago, at 9 am, I sent all eight of my direct reports the same email, “Don’t tell anyone, but come find me in the boardroom right away.” I then walked calmly to the boardroom. Within three minutes, six of my eight reports were in the boardroom. The other two were there by the five-minute mark. It quickly showed me and them how little they were focused on the critical projects and how distracted they could be with emails.
I’ve even tried this with business leaders like CEOs whom I mentor and coach. Most of them fail terribly, calling me instantly. A few are awesome and don’t call until the following day, saying, “Sorry I didn’t get to you sooner, I’m doing what you told me and not checking email.”
There are so many strategies out there to help you stay focused as a business leader, such as setting timers, minimizing distractions, and even listening to music. These are only a few, but the few most effective. Try them out and see how much they help you focus.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2011 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.