Do you feel that you have the mental focus skills to stay energised and on track throughout your entire week, and the next week and so on? Or do you find that your focus waxes and wanes, maybe succumbing to the countless distractions, such as a ping from a new e-mail, a phone ringing or a request from a colleague etc?
Fundamental to tapping into mental energy is having clear goals and deliberately targeting those activities that will give you the biggest and best return on your time. It is also about being very intentional over which distractions you will accept and which you will ignore in pursuit of these goals.
The chances are if you value the importance of planning, if you are clear on your priorities and you organise your time accordingly, and if you are successful in ignoring those distractions that can knock you off course, then you will be enjoying a steady flow of mental energy, allowing you to perform at your best.
For many of us however this type of energy comes in fits and starts. We have times when we seem to achieve so much, our day flows, we are on top form, and ticking off completed tasks with both ease and speed. However we also have those frustrating days when we achieve so little…and yet we were busy all day. Does this sound familiar?
The key to success is how well and how consistently you plan and prioritise your time. Those focused days rarely happen by chance. They happen because you have planned it that way, you knew what you had to do and you didn’t allow yourself to become distracted. It’s the difference between being proactive and not reactive. Without a clear plan you are at the mercy of simply reacting to what you feel like doing and what situations pop up through the day.
To tap into a steady flow of mental energy, consider the following steps
Your priorities change through time, so you need to regularly reassess what they are. Every week write down your top 3 business priorities. This can act like a compass, keeping you on track and not letting you become distracted.
Based on these priorities; on a Friday afternoon, before you stop work for the weekend; plan your week ahead, by writing a ‘to do’ list. Diarise what you plan to do and when you plan to do it. This has two advantages:
- Come Monday you are going to know exactly what you need to focus on and achieve that week.
- By writing the list on the Friday afternoon, you are then free to enjoy your weekend, without being consumed of thoughts and worries about work.
As well as a weekly plan, plan your day before you start work. Remember the clearer you are, the more likely you are to stay on task, achieve more and keep stress at bay.
Consider which distractions you will accept and which you will ignore. For example you may be expecting a particular call from an important client. By deciding up front, you will be ready to reject the steady stream of attempted disruptions and requests and stay focused on the task.
Learn to say no to non-important tasks and to delegate the ones that are important, but either not to you or that are important to you, but that someone else can do.