5 minutes of Focus Pocus!

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5 minutes – that’s all it takes to start you on the path to concentration success.

Ok so what am I talking about? Well when I first started out I found that I had so many areas of the business that were all vying for my attention that it was really hard to focus. No I mean really hard…on top of that I had other external issues wanting my attention too, kids, housework, leisure time etc…there just never seemed to be enough time in the day for everything. I’m sure you’ve been there, done that right?

It was then that I decided to focus.

And when I say focus I mean really, intensely focus.

But only for short bursts at a time. 5 minutes was all it took. (I can tell you I’m not a person with a long attention span!)

Now those who know me know that I like to make lists. I give a list to my key staff at the start of the month outlining where we are going that month and what needs achieving. I make lists for myself, not because I can’t remember stuff – quite the opposite, but because I feel motivated when I can tick things off as being completed.

I make short hand lists in meetings instead of full notes. Lists are very much my thing.

All these lists are well documented but how do I get to the lists in the first place? Well I take blocks of 5 minutes and I focus my mind on what needs doing. I set the clock on my computer for a 5 minute countdown, open a new word document and then focus my mind on that topic for 5 minutes. The document is then literally a list of “tag words”. I rarely use sentences, but this is the system that’s best for me as I view this as simply a precursor list to a “to do list”.

The point is to take those 5 minutes and to work your mind really hard for that very short burst. Don’t let it wander, focus focus focus on what needs to be done! It’s hard to start with but once you get used to doing it for a bit, you do get swifter and your mind goes into a shift of short rapid concentration on a topic.

So, what does all this achieve? Well I tend to do this at the start of the day, each day and I’ll take 5 minutes for each topic that I need to expand on that day or that week. (I rarely expand on anything for more than a month in advance as plans always change – and the sands often shift from under your feet if you plan much further ahead than one month at a time I find!) I also find that 3 topics is good amount of work for anyone to work on in any one day – especially when you have to work around appointments and interruptions from other folk!

It means that I clear my mind of things that really need my full undivided attention – which of course it never gets during the working day. It means I know where I’m going with a germ of an idea…I will have taken an idea and grown it in those five minutes. It also means because I’ve only ever spent five minutes on a topic at a time I don’t feel like I’m investing loads of my precious time on any one thing at once. I can “spew” up a lot of good ideas or notes in those five minutes of focus and then if I choose to moth ball them for an hour or two or even a day or two, I can quite happily walk away from it – knowing that I’ve started that particular topic’s journey from seed to full grown working plan!

It also means that I start the day feeling that I’ve got some work under my belt already…and perhaps this is a very clear sign that I’m a workaholic!! But I hate to start the day with no clear idea of what I need to be working on and I’ve found this system eradicates that feeling in return for not very much investment in my time.

Another thing that I do with the system is I make sure that when the five minutes is up, that’s it…nothing else goes down on the list.

Harsh?

Umm yes!

And I know, I can hear you all saying “yes but…what happens if you have a brilliant flash of genius at 5.01 minutes?” Well I don’t, not any more, as I take those five minutes of focus and I logically order them with the most important aspect; as I feel it is when I first look at the topic; being at the top of the list. I try to arrange it so that it’s like a good press release. The best bit being at the very head of the focus session and the rest of the session supporting that first flash of brilliance. (This bit usually happens in the first minute btw). Ok, so that probably sounds completely restrictive and binding, but that’s the point of the exercise. It’s supposed to be contained, so it doesn’t meander in to your working day. Get the hard work out of the way and then get on with building your working day around it. This way I find my time is utilised to its best and that I’m not just wandering aimlessly through a working day wasting time.

Go on…try it.

Give yourself five minutes for each topic you need to work on then work off that focus session for rest of the day…I promise you, you’ll see how much you can actually get done in five minutes if you just focus, focus, focus. And that investment of time will pay dividends throughout your working day.

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Comments

  1. Yes, I agree, and will put your 5 minute focus plan to work. My day is full of multitasking, there’s never enough time in the day, perhaps 5 minutes of pure focus will get things done.

    Thanks!

  2. If there were five minutes in an hour I could do that. My brilliant flashes come at around 5 hours. I’ve got work to do.

  3. I completely agree.

    One of the many lessons I learned as a kids came from a study-aid cassette tape program my dad bought me called “Where there’s a will, there an A.”

    The basic premise of this program (and I was 12 at the time) is that kids who study hours only remember the first and last 15 minutes of what they were studying. So, shorter study times meant longer retention of information.

    I’ve used that same idea in my marketing career (along with the Babe Ruth philosophy of swing hard at all the pitches – Ruth had the most strikeouts as well as the most home runs during his day).

    And here is a very recent GREAT success story built on these premises:

    Scott Linville and Dave Stutsman developed their idea of a small travel trailer that is light enough so it could be towed by 6- and 4-cylinder vehicles but still had the comforts of a full-size RV.

    With prototypes unaccepted by larger manufacturers, they set out on their own.

    Four weeks ago Scott called me to place an ad in Auto & RV magazine. However, they needed a website and a marketing plan.

    Today, they have several dealers in Indiana, throughout the Midwest, Tennessee, Canada, and Arizona preparing to sell their product.

    A little free advice nevery hurt anyone.

    Big brand solutions for small business – imij media marketing.