How important is mental focus? It’s simply the number-one key to becoming legendary at what you do.
However you choose to say it, the power of focus is what separates those who are good from those who are great.
However, your daily life can easily compromise your ability to focus. Let’s take a look at a recent day in my professional life as an example:
- 623 emails across 4 email accounts
- 23 social media requests, messages, etc.
- 13 incoming phone calls, and 9 voicemail messages
- 2 conference calls and 3 one-on-one meetings
- 1 presentation to some of my Clients
- 1 contract negotiation
How do I maintain focus when I have all of these things challenging it? Of course, I stay organized with to do lists, manage my voicemail, and keep my email management system in top shape. But, as I tell people all the time, you’ll always have 1,000 things on your plate, but are you doing the right things?
Here’s my insanely simple secret to using a Top 3 list to achieve mental focus every day – and increase your ability to focus exponentially:
1. For 5 minutes right now, think about what you really need to focus on. This should be time where you focus only on important things that will move your project, career, etc. forward. Mentally ban thoughts about an email you have to respond to, a person you have to call, etc. Use this time to deliberately force yourself to mentally focus on what you need to do.
2. Write down the Top 3 things you need to focus on. I like to write this list down in my moleskine notebook, but you might prefer a sticky note, or a note card, like Patrick. Your goal is to use this Top 3 list to guide what you do tomorrow.
3. Tomorrow morning, do one thing from your Top 3 list before you open your email. I am TOTALLY SERIOUS about this. Email is a gigantic distractor and priority-changer. Do not let it prevent you from maintaining focus. By doing at least one thing on your list before opening your email, you set yourself up for a successful day.
4. At the end of the day, check your Top 3 list, cross off what you’ve accomplished, and write your list for tomorrow. It’s CRITICAL that you write your list for tomorrow at the end of the day today. At the end of the day, you still have the day fresh in your mind. Also, by doing this, you’re not spending time tomorrow morning figuring out what to do.
That’s it – the secret to mental focus is the Top 3 list! If you really use this technique (including #3 and #4 above), you’ll be amazed at the mental focus and clarity you have.