How to Fight for Focus

Four strategies for setting boundaries and finding freedom so you can get things done.

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Focused attention is the basis for effectiveness. Without it, any sort of complex activity is made more challenging, if not impossible, to skillfully execute.

We all need to become more active and muscular in setting boundaries and priorities about how we work and live. This is becoming increasingly more important as old boundaries dissolve (think 9-5 workday, leisure-time on the weekend, vacations that allow undisturbed away time), and work permeates every nook and cranny of life. It’s easy to default to allowing the external conditions dictate our daily schedules. But a few simple strategies can help us craft our time and exercise previously unknown aspects of personal power.

In a previous post I introduced Eleanor, a high performing executive I worked with at a global aerospace firm. Wrestling as we all do with interruption, distraction, and stress, she decided to fight back. Here are some of the tools she used:

1. Manage Interruptions

The unintended side effect of always being available is that your calendar becomes a highly permeable membrane that is frequently breached by unbidden interruption. And interruptions can be costly. A 3-second interruption can lead to double the number of mistakes on a subsequent task,…