Take Five. . .
You know the problem–swarms of distractions, constant interruptions, various tones chiming all around, rampant “screen sucking,” texting under the table during meetings, the overloading of mental circuits, and frequent feelings of frustration at trying to get everything done within our self made time constraints.
Consider these five things in your life:
You–especially your brain–can’t focus without energy, and plenty of it. As your supply of energy gets low, you start to fade. Taking steps to monitor your brain’s energy supply is as basic and essential as keeping your car’s tank full of gas. Most people ignore or take for granted this fundamental necessity, as if the supply was infinite, and they do not monitor carefully how they spend their energy, thus wasting great quantities of it on trivial tasks. But when you invest your energy wisely and see to it that energy tank is always full (rest, meditate, pause etc), you become able to feel positive emotion.
Emotion is the on-off switch for learning and for peak performance. Often ignored or taken for granted, your emotional state drives the quality of your focus and thus the results you can achieve. If you work in a fear-driven mindset that is low on trust, your attitude will necessarily suffer. It’s a neurological fact. But if you work lowering fear and upping the positive aspects of life, then you can achieve at your best.
You must be interested in order to pay close attention. You must also be motivated. Interest and motivation equal engagement. Such engagement develops naturally when you find your personal “sweet spot,” the overlap of three spheres: what you love to do, what you are very good at doing, and what advances the mission of your moments.
Such a simple word, but such a magnificent tool when used creatively and wisely. Structure refers to how you shape your day, how you spend your time, what boundaries you create, what rules you follow, what priorities you set up, which tasks you take on and which you farm out, what plans you make, and what flexibility you create. Without structure, focus is impossible.
In today’s world, if you don’t take your time, it will be taken from you. Most people exert less control over how they use their time than they should. Take back control. The fact is, most people give away great gobs of their time and attention every day without meaning to and usually without being aware that they are. They surrender their attention to the onslaught of modern life without putting up much of a fight, as if they were overmatched. No one would dump $150 into the garbage every day, but most of us flush at least a 150 minutes every day without even noticing we’re doing it.
These five elements–energy, emotion, engagement, structure, and control–combine to create a framework that will allow you to perform at your best without feeling frazzled, frantic, and feckless. You need to individualize your own plan, based on your situation and your own personality and emotional makeup, but the basic elements of this plan will work for everyone.
Peace and Love, Jim