It’s early morning and you’re just sitting down to the fifteen minute block of time that you’ve allocated to do your morning meditation or catching up on news with your cup of coffee.
But before you’ve even started your timer or opened the news app on your phone, you’re instantly sucked into what seems like an endless number of captivating yet completely useless rabbit holes. Instead of meditating, you’re checking out the features of a new app or you’ve clicked on one of those junky articles about the 5 most beautiful celebrities of 2022. All of a sudden, your morning free time is gone - your focus lost to what feels like the curse of our times - endless, irresistible, useless distractions.
Now, instead of starting your day with some focused ‘you’ time, you feel even more out of it and even less prepared to tackle the busy day ahead of you.
The thoughts about your to-do list start creeping in - should you do this or do that today? What project/task is the most important? What about fitting in the other thing that you just got an email about? Your day hasn’t even started and you’re already distracted with wondering “how am I going to get everything done?”
The reality is, no matter how fast and busy our society becomes, there are still only 24 hours in a day and nearly a third of those should be spent sleeping. The world gets busier and busier, the expectations higher and higher, yet the amount of time we have remains the same.
So how do you decide what you should focus on when there’s always more work than you can do and never enough time to do it in. How do you say yes to the tasks that matter to you and find a way to say no to the ones that don’t?
In the flood of demands that you face in a day, having a way through to clarity is one of the most important skills you can learn, and today we want to share with you the single most important tool to gaining control of your focus and attention. In fact, many leaders who we’ve worked with over the years have described our performance, focus, commitment (PFC) tool as game-changing.
Use the PFC method to increase your focus on what’s important to you
When you’re constantly pulled in a million different directions and focusing your efforts on doing what others expect you to do, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Especially when you’re a leader who’s responsible for taking care of your team, meeting the requirements of your organization, and trying, last of all, to fulfill your own needs.
But deciding what to say yes and no to becomes a lot simpler when you hold your to-do list up against your purpose and values - the things that guide and drive you to keep coming to work every day.
When your efforts are aligned to a purpose that you care about, you gain clarity about where to put your time and energy.
Instead of allowing your brain to slip into it’s default mode of focusing on what’s negative or overwhelming about your to-do list (a reactive mindset), you can instead take action and make progress toward a larger vision by saying yes to the things you feel will have an impact in service to your vision and no to those that won’t (creative mindset).
For example, let’s say your vision and purpose is to provide ‘great patient care’. When you’re in a reactive mindset and feel that you have to say yes to everything that others expect of you, you might agree to show up to that 10th meeting of the week that has nothing to do with your department, and certainly has no bearing on providing great patient care. But if you flip the switch inside your own mind and ask yourself if that meeting is just taking up time you could be spending on other things that DO serve your vision of ‘great patient care’, it becomes easier to say no and to feel good about your decision.
Of course, you can’t say no to all circumstances and we get that, but when you’re faced with an abundance of choice and a limited number of hours, it’s important to choose what matters most to YOU and what will serve your purpose the best. And if you can say no to that meeting with the reasoning that you need to spend time focusing on how to improve patient care, chances are your colleagues will respect your decision and dedication.
So how do you decide what it is that matters to you and where you should put your focus?
Use the Performance, Focus, Commitment (PFC) method as part of your morning routine. Take 5 minutes to sit down with these 3 questions and record your answers in whatever way suits you best:
Instead of worrying about everything that needs to be done, ask yourself ‘where can I have the most impact today?’
It’s easy and natural to get distracted by other demands from your day. Write down ‘how you you stay focused on your area of biggest impact today?’
Concentrating your efforts is not a one-and-done task. You will need to commit to choosing over and over again to return to your focus. Write down a few ideas for ‘how and when will you remind yourself of your focus throughout your day?’
Keep in mind, PFC is a tool that’s most effective when it’s done as part of your daily routine because, when you’re living through times of complexity and uncertainty, one day can be different than the next. When you focus on small, short-term wins, you give yourself continual boosts of dopamine that motivate you to keep moving forward instead of getting caught up in feeling like you’re never making any progress.
Focus on things you've already done well that you want to do more of, celebrate the moments when you've achieved those micro-goals, and repeat daily.
Download our full AM/PM routine worksheet, including the PFC tool, here.