FOCUS
  • Concentrating efforts along the right priorities in an effective manner
  • Honing attention, time and energy into fulfilling specific responsibilities
  • Guarding against distractions and saying “no” to that which degrades high-quality performance

HARRINGTON COMMENTARY

I have been trying for three days to write a new GuideMark commentary about Focus. But I keep getting interrupted or distracted. No joke. In fact, I just got sucked into another website after I typed “No Joke.” (I was looking at information about distracted driving. I had thought about using that as an example for focus, but it doesn’t seem quite right to compare focus in the work setting with safety-related issues from having proper focus while driving. If you want a distraction, you can go to www.distraction.gov and find out more. But I digress, aaahhhhhhhhhh! Distraction, distraction, distraction.)

This is what I’m talking about:

Text message. Phone call on my landline. E-mail. Internet. Need to do this. Phone call on my cellphone. Need to do that. Internet. Someone at my door. Phone call on my landline. Four text messages from one person. Missed call because I went to the bathroom. E-mail. Upgrade software. Internet. Meeting reminder. E-mail. E-mail. Reboot phone. Mind wandering creating new distractions (as if my surroundings weren’t providing enough interruptions already). Pay for something. Find a password. E-mail. Answer a question. Phone call.

Do you understand? To really capture it’s meaning, try reading that paragraph again. Only this time, read it out loud as fast as you can and try to do it without taking a breath. Got it?

Am I the only one, or do other people experience their version of this, too? It drives me nuts. I know how important focus can be. It plays a huge role in my ability to fulfill my responsibilities; yet, at times I feel almost powerless to the distractions coming at me (and even coming from me).

I just checked definitions of the word distraction:

a) diversion of attention

b) mental derangement

I’m ignoring the second definition because it’s just crazy. (That’s a joke.) But the first one, about attention, that’s the nemesis of focus. Diversion of attention is the problem. That’s why distracted driving is so dangerous. Because the drivers attention is diverted away from where it should be. (Again, I’m not really satisfied with distracted driving as an appropriate analogy for this week’s GuideMark commentary. Yes, it certainly illustrates the need for proper focus in certain situations, but it doesn’t really apply in the same way. UNLESS YOU ARE READING THIS ON YOUR PHONE WHILE DRIVING. IN WHICH CASE, YOU NEED TO STOP READING AND START WATCHING THE ROAD RIGHT NOW. My thoughts on “focus” can wait until you get to wherever it is you are driving.)

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Have you had some difficulty following my thinking? Do you see the illustration that I am trying to make?

A lack of proper focus challenges our ability to do our jobs well. If our attention isn’t focused properly (like mine hasn’t been in this commentary), it makes it doubly hard on the recipients of our work. It is important to guard against distractions, to maintain our focus, and to say “no” when necessary. When we succeed at maintaining focus, we perform better and the recipients of our work benefit all the more for it.

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Key Words and Phrases

To concentrate attention; Emphasis; Fasten; Center; Train; To have a clear perception; To bring to focus.

Opposite Terms

Blurry; Out of focus; Without direction.

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