The Discipline of Focus

To focus is surely one of the most important disciplines..
I once retained a great sales person. The areas of Web Development and SEO were new to him, but he was talented and soon began bringing in good business.
The challenge for us all, was that his performance soon began to wain and the quality of the business he secured suffered.
At this very same time this capable chap began worrying about what our competitors were getting up to and would approach me many times daily about what XYZ competitor was doing and the position a competitor had achieved on Google for a particular term.
As you can imagine, my response was encouraging and I would say “don’t worry about that, we have a good revenue stream and we’ll never be top of every search”,, “we have a great USP so there is no need to worry” , he spent more and more time reviewing social media and worrying about what he saw as our lack of prominence, loosing focus of his tasks and key priorities which in turn started to affect his work.
The point I’m making is that even the very best of us need to keep focused on the job at hand and I list here a few ideas that I personally use and found worked. I hope there are some tips here that will help:

  • KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators. The idea of KPI’s is that they are indeed “Key” to your success in your job, be that sales, marketing or accounts. The performance factors are those that you need to devote daily time and energy on to achieve success. For example, a sales person’s KPI’s might include, telephone sales calls, writing proposals, visiting prospective clients, keeping prospect files in order and creating monthly sales reports for the Board. To that end they would have 5 KPI’s. At any point when they found themselves loosing focus and perhaps looking at social media, they only need to glance at their particular KPI’s to get themselves back on track.
  • Agree key objectives with your line manager and regularly review your progress
  • Priority Lists-the all important and oft shunned or procrastinated priorities! I personally used to keep a list updated with just about everything I had to do at work, although a simple list of course isn’t too much use. To make it an effective business tool, I used to keep mine on a spreadsheet (it worked for me, although there are a lot of automated tools out there) and I would look through it at the end of every day, cutting and pasting the most important actions from wherever they were on the list to the top. I numbered the top 5 and ensured that the first thing I worked on in the morning was that number 1 task.I mportantly I updated the list in the evening before I went home so that “housekeeping” tasks didn’t take up time in the morning and furthermore, used to keep those top five on the list even after I’d completed them that day. I would strike them through because that in itself was a bit of a boost as I could see I was making progress.
  • Rewards. Give yourself a treat for a task finished. If I was desperate for some chocolate I would tell myself to finish a task before I could have one.
  • Breaks-Not taking some time out can be counter productive. Take a short break every now and again if you are finding something difficult. It really will help you concentrate when you return to work.

I hope these few ideas help you to keep focused, it can be hard at work, and they certainly helped me.

avatar Name: Alexandra Eager
About: Alex has worked as a Financial Controller and Finance Director for many years for a variety of companies across a range of industries but more recently she has moved away from accounting working for an internet marketing agency as Finance and Operations director, primarily overseeing the finance functions and search engine optimisation (SEO) for clients. Follow Alex on G+ and on Twitter @Alex_BusDirUK
Alex runs her own company with two fellow owners developing a suite of e-commerce web sites and promoting them directly. “I found that SEO and finance were quite compatible both needing an eye for detail, research and analysis as well keeping up with new developments and changes.”

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