The key to success is to be able to focus. If you can stay focused over time, you’ll get more stuff done.
With focus you’re more productive. You create a space where you can reflect and make important decisions on what to do – instead of letting your inbox and the people around you set your priorities for you.
Focus is a rare fruit these days. Most of us are not able to focus at all during a normal workday — you just follow the crazy ride you’re on and see where it takes you. We no longer have work days, but work moments. That’s the new normal. People are stressed, they constantly feel they’re behind on things and most of them don’t have the time or capacity to really focus on anything.
I’ve worked a lot with myself on these things the last year. I felt strongly, like many others, that the days did not have enough hours. I would love 4-5 additional hours every day. Maybe then I’d get on top of things again. Maybe then I would be able to focus.
My solution to the problem was often that I spent long hours at the office working, or even worse – spent long hours working from home. This is not the solution.
I strongly believe that it’s important to have distinct mindsets between work and life. Although I LOVE my job and am really passionate about all the things I do there — it’s still important to unplug and unwind.
I want to do my best at work every day, and to be able to do that I need clear lines between when I’m working and when I’m not. When you mix these two worlds together – over time you’ll get tired, unmotivated and you won’t deliver your best — even though you will not even notice this at first. This happened to me, and as I gradually got more exhausted, I became more distant from the people I love. I was constantly thinking about work or on my mobile checking emails and social media and was never 100% “there”. This was not a good way for anyone to live their lives.
Now, my life feels different since I’ve been able to create a time and space where I’m able to focus without anything disrupting me. Where is this magical place you say?
It’s called the morning.
And what a fantastic place it is! I’m all by myself, where my focus is just waiting to interact with me. The birds are not awake yet. The streets are empty — just me and my focus.
I try to get up by 05:30 every morning. It’s my alone time, where I do things I normally don’t have the time, and/or focus, to do. It’s a perfect time for reflecting, thinking and just giving myself a break in my own tempo – No inboxes, people or notifications disrupting me.
I don’t check my phone, I don’t read e-mails. I just work with whatever task I want to be focused on, I go for a run and give myself time to enjoy the silence. Then I take a shower, get ready for the office and a new day, feeling refreshed, in control — almost zen like. I see all my co-workers getting in, tired and stressed. I get the feeling that I’m one step ahead.. what an amazing feeling.
I’m not alone in feeling this. There are a number of books, articles and blog posts all telling the same story. You get more out of your day if you get up early. Our willpower is stronger and we are able to focus better. This is the shared secret between the most successful people I know.
I’ve now organized my days so that I don’t have any meetings before twelve — it’s just me and the tasks I need to focus on. After twelve I let the world in. Meetings, e-mails, notifications — but they feel different now. Because now, I’m in control.
I’m focused. I’m achieving something. I feel that I’m creating my own success at work, and when I’m home.