The Power of Focus

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”
- Alexander Graham Bell -

Yesterday Jenny got to my chocolate store all upset, she looked disoriented and completely out of focus. She raised her hands to the ceiling and yelled “I just don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do. I just don’t have enough time!”. I looked at her astonished. Jenny usually does not get so emotional, that role belongs to me. I could not hold myself and giggled a bit. Jenny looked very annoyed and said “what’s so funny Liz?”.

I told her, “Jenny, you were here together with me, exactly a year ago when Charlie explained to us the key to time management. Our main insights were that we all have the same amount of time, we all have 24 hours a day, we cannot control our time, all we can do and all we ought to do is to prioritize our time, do you remember that?”.

Jenny looked really mad, “What does Charlie know, going with his brown suitcase, always having the answer, what does he know about the tough life of a business owner, I bet you every business owner end her day by saying: If I only had a few more hours I will be successful”.

I stopped for a second thinking, I could have told her that Charlie is an astute investor and business owner who owns multi-billion dollar businesses, but Jenny is not really upset with Charlie, she is upset with herself, she is facing what I heard from so many business owners the “if I only had more time” syndrome.

I prepared Jenny’s favorite pistachio and strawberry ice cream, it is almost 100 degrees outside, and Jenny looks as if she is about to break into tears. As Jenny ate her ice cream, we talked about her son and I showed her Ashley’s latest art work, Jenny seemed to cool down. She looked at me and said “I’m really sorry Liz. It has been a crazy week. I really wish I had more time”.

I looked at her, smiled and said gently “I wish more business owners will replace this sentence with: I wish I prioritize my time better, I wish I was more focused”, Jenny looked curious, “what do you mean Liz?”.

I continued and said, “We sometimes object to this notion, but we really have finite amount of time, we try to multitask, multitasking is a myth, we cannot really do it. What we can do is focus our energy on the really important tasks, focus our time on the tasks which bring the most value to our customers and to our business”.

Jenny asked me “Can you show me how to do it?”.

I smiled and said, let me show you the simple first step. I went to the counter and brought over my yellow notepad and told Jenny, “Write down your top business priorities for this week”.

Jenny started to write, and then she wrote some more when she got to item number 25, I stopped her. She looked puzzled and said “I’m not even half way through”.

I nodded and said, “I know Jenny. The first step to prioritization is to focus on the really important tasks, the ones that will create the most impact. Only after finishing these tasks should you go ahead and work on the rest”. Jenny looked thoughtful. I continued “Take your list and write down only 3 tasks for this week, these are the ones you will focus on first, just after attacking those, can you continue down the list”.

I will spare you the back and forth of “it cannot be done, they are all important, I cannot do this one without that one etc.”, at the end Jenny wrote her 3 goals for the week. She was happy, more focused, and gained clarity.

What are your business’ 3 top priorities? Can you write down only 3? Go ahead, do it and witness the power of focus!


About the Author: Liz

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