Over the years – and more intentionally in recent months – I’ve been trying to assess the amount of focus that I direct towards activities. That is, calculating how much energy each ‘thing’ merits. I apply this (at least in theory!) to every meeting, every agenda item, every task that I engage with.
The starting point is to know the ‘what’ and the ‘why’.
This is also the most difficult point. Often meetings happen because… well, they’ve been scheduled; and the agenda has been carefully assembled… by copying the last one and adding new items. Frequently, tasks arrive without a clarity of purpose, sent or copied to several people (especially with e-mail), and with no allocation of responsibility. So the first tasks is to determine relative importance and clarify the actions expected.
The second stage is to prioritise, then apply the requisite level of focus at the appropriate time.
For example, you may decide that items 3,4 and 7 on an agenda are of particular importance to you – this is when you should be concentrating hardest and anticipating how you want to contribute; if item 2 is of interest, then perk up a bit when that’s being discussed; and if the other items have no relevance – don’t just sit there, ask the chair to re-arrange the agenda, so that you can leave when your interest (focus) is over.
Alternatively, you could treat all activities with equal weighting. I know several people who do this… and it shows – they don’t know what’s important, and they can’t raise their game when they really should.
Try to develop the focus habit this week, if it makes a difference, let me know!