A Laser-like Focus: the best way to keep procrastination at bay

Posted on December 7, 2006. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development |

I’m relearning something I’ve known but have to be reminded of: when I procrastinate it means I’ve lost my focus. When I lose my focus, I become distracted by all the little things. The little things take on an importance they don’t deserve and draw my attention away from the things that truly are important.

What causes that loss of focus that results in procrastination? It’s different for each of us. Just two of my triggers are:

  • Fear of my ability to be successful with a project.
  • Perfectionism (closely tied to the first trigger)–you have no way of knowing how many blogs have been in my head but never made it to this site because I wanted them to be perfect!

Struggling with these two triggers causes other things in my life to be distractions, thereby causing me to lose my focus. The result of that is procrastination. A sure sign that I’m dealing with a trigger is irritation at my office space arrangement. If I’m feeling stressed by the work I need to get done but am unable to focus on it, my office really starts to bug me! I’ll start rearranging files, straightening the book shelves, and shopping for organization systems. And when I run out of things to do in my office, I start looking for other areas to put order to–like the trunk of my car!

So is this loss of focus a problem? You bet. Imagine you work for a manager who loses focus on your projects when you need that manager’s help the most. The manager may end up missing your deadlines, giving you additional projects rather than allowing you to finish your current tasks, and procrastinating with items or information you need.

What if you are that manager? The first step to dealing with this situation is to recognize that you are procrastinating. The second step is to ask yourself why. What is it about the project or person that is causing you to lose your focus? Once you recognize the cause, you can begin creating a plan to overcome the cause. Caution! Creating a plan to overcome the cause can become a procrastination device!

I’ve read two excellent books recently that have helped me regain my focus in this particular area. The author is Patrick Lencioni and the books are The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you choose to read these books as part of your holiday gift to yourself, start with The Four Obsessions. Doing so will help prepare you for implementing the ideas in The Five Dysfunctions.

What are you reading that’s helping you stay focused?

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