Keeping your team focused on a specific task or an activity is one of the most important and challenging elements in modern leadership and team management.
What is focus, though? Is it something innate or is it a skill you can train yourself to be better at? Here at Weekdone, we are strong advocates of the latter and today we will share a few quick tips to not only help your team maintain focus, but learn how to increase it.
Before we dive into it, let’s make sure we all understand what we mean by focus.
What does “increasing focus” mean?
In a professional setting, focus refers to the amount of time your team can lock-in to a specific task and perform it as efficiently, effectively and uninterruptedly as possible.
Increasing focus is an attempt at maintaining the highest level of performance and effort over a longer period of time.
How to increase focus & productivity at work
For the longest time, focus has been associated with the ability to plan. Whether it’s your day at work, your schedule on the weekend or your company’s goals, planning has been the major vessel of keeping us on track, of keeping us focused to what needed to be done.
While writing actionable goals on a piece of paper is an amazing place to start, it is only a small portion of what you need to consider as a leader. Let’s dive into some of the best ways to increase your focus.
#1: Reverse-engineer your planning
Writing down goals for your team is one of many great ways for a productive week filled with focus. What if we told you that the secret for increasing focus comes at the end of your week? Let us explain.
Planning and listing your team’s goals and tasks are great ways to pave the path of productivity but you know what’s even better? Standing at the end of that path, looking back and re-assessing your choices.
We have the bad habit of thinking that losing focus is entirely our fault. That focus is related to passion, ambition and work-ethic. That is not necessarily true.
Focus is a byproduct of choosing the correct action plan. In order to increase focus, you need to fine-tune your ability to plan and ensure that you empty your “focus-tank” on the things that matter the most.
Which brings us back to the title of this section – reverse-engineer your planning. At the end of each week, look back at your finished items and accomplishments and ask yourself the following questions:
- Were the things I did today or this week really the most important ones?
- Did they have an impact on my work?
- Should I have done something else instead?
- Did I do a lot of small minor things that really did not have an impact?
- Have I been postponing the important strategic things?
Make it a habit to comment on the progress of planning goals for your team, why they were important and how much ground you covered in achieving them.
#2: Assess the importance of your plans
Focus is often lost when we have to juggle too many things at once. How do we avoid doing that? By prioritizing and making sure that planning is not merely a long list of things that need to be done, but a list of things in order of importance and urgency.
Thankfully, there is a simple way to ensure we focus our plans on what's important: the Eisenhower Matrix. A simple 4-square grid that is separated to urgency and importance can help you identify what can be done later, what needs to be done now, what can be delegated and what can be done when you get the time.
This simple technique ensures that when it’s time for your team to place all their focus on one task, they are doing it for the right task and they have no external distractions whilst doing it.
The Eisenhower Matrix is only one way of going about assessing the importance of your plans – Pareto analysis is another one. The Pareto analysis is a specific technique used during decision-making. It's designed to select a small level of tasks with the largest overall effect.
#3: Define a goal-setting framework
When attempting to increase your focus on specific goals, writing them down is a great way to start. The thing is, this can become tiresome over time if it doesn’t follow a specific structure, method or template.
OKRs are a goal-setting framework for identifying and keeping track of team and business Objectives and their outcomes. It’s a process that will immediately impact your team’s ability to write more succinct, specific and achievable quarterly goals and immediately increase their focus.
Why? Because OKRs are specifically designed to keep your team on the fastest path to goal completion. They’ll never let them stray and they’ll never let them spend their energy on things that are not of essence.
By following OKR best practices, you’ll see that your team’s ability to perform at the top of their game will suddenly improve. Days and weeks will come to an end and you’ll see them coming closer to achieving their goals, you’ll see that all the hard work they are doing is channeled in the right direction and that their focus is unwavering and laser-sharp.
Just look at how Google was able to utilize and make the most of OKRs. The tech conglomerate used the OKR framework to communicate, measure, and execute their goals. OKRs helped Google employees to zone in on the goals driving the business forward, and avoid being distracted by seemingly urgent but actually less important goals.
Most people and businesses place an immense amount of attention, energy and resources in streamlining their efforts to achieving goals.
Sure, goals are merely wishes if you subtract the execution part, but let’s not discount the importance of streamlining the goal-setting process.
OKRs provide the ability for transparent goal-setting, streamlining goals across teams, ensuring everyone is working towards the desired result.
Just to get an idea of what OKRs are and can do, have a look at these OKR examples.
There you have it! Three simple tips to increase your focus! Stay tuned as there is more to come!